During the council members’ public-comment portion of a Santa Clarita City Council meeting Tuesday, an apparently long simmering dispute boiled over, leading to a terse tete-a-tete at City Hall.
A question about the “Mayor Dude” effort by City Hall for Councilman Frank Ferry in 2009, which Ferry characterized as public outreach, spurred a seemingly one-sided war of words.
Councilman TimBen Boydston put himself in Ferry’s verbal crosshairs, after asking if the city’s publicity effort aimed at promoting Ferry’s fictional image as the Mayor Dude constituted a violation of a prohibition against the use of taxpayer funds for campaigning.
“What Councilmember Boydston is doing is one of the reasons I’m not going to run any longer,” Ferry said, during his opening salvo. “He’s brought a hateful tone to City Council. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be out there and be able to say what I want.”
Ferry then asked city attorney Joe Montes if he could legally start an independent expenditure commission.
In January, Ferry, who’s up for election in 2014, said he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.
“I’m going to make sure whoever you have planned to get my seat, doesn’t,” Ferry said to Boydston from the dais, likening himself to sleeping tiger poked by a sheep.
“It was about the upcoming election,” Boydston said, denying that the nature of his questioning was a personal attack.
Ferry launched a quick rebuttal, making sure Boydston recognized that to Ferry, it was personal.
“You can wrap yourself in the flag, you can say it’s about the taxpayer,” Ferry continued. “But it wasn’t about the taxpayer when you tried to raise your benefits.”
Boydston responded by asking Montes if he needed to leave the dais during a discussion of benefits, due to a potential conflict of interest.
“Am I allowed to be here on the dais?” Boydston asked. “I just want to make sure I’m not breaking the law.”
Ferry again spared niceties with an acerbic reply.
“If you want to leave the room while I make my comments I would love that,” Ferry said.
Ferry said he just wanted to “go out quietly,” but Boydston was making sure that wouldn’t happen with his comments.
“You could have made the same point without mentioning my name,” Ferry said. “You never fail to disappoint me.”
Ferry furthered his comments into the realm of sarcasm by addressing the “overwhelming” and “unfair” advantage that the Mayor Dude persona gave him, noting that he defeated David Gauny by 32 votes during his last re-election campaign.
SFor his part, Montes noted that the Mayor Dude campaign constituted no violation of law because when the persona was created, city staffers had no knowledge of a re-election effort by Ferry.
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