Ballot Recommendations for Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 Consolidate Municipal Election
By EGP Editorial
Bell Gardens Municipal Election
City Council – Two Seats
There are four candidates vying for the two council seats on next Tuesday’s ballot. The candidates include incumbents Pedro Aceituno and Jennifer Rodriguez. The challengers are associate teacher and commissioner Jannette Morales and pharmacy manager Yvette Silva.
EGP endorses Aceituno and Rodriguez for reelection.
Both Aceituno and Rodriguez have been on the council for multiple terms, and in our opinion, they have for the most part served the city’s constituents well. While very different in their temperaments, both Aceituno and Rodriguez in interviews with EGP’s Editorial Board, demonstrated a strong understanding of the city’s financial situation, and the needs of the southeast city’s mostly Latino, low-income community. Both stressed the need to bring new employers to Bell Gardens, where the unemployment rate stands at about 18 percent. They expressed a strong desire to provide services to Bell Gardens residents, but also recognized the financial constraints that as city officials they must be ever cognizant of when making budget and funding decisions. They expressed a desire for the city to continue to aggressively pursue federal and state grants, and to protect public safety.
The constant political bickering between Rodriguez and Councilman Daniel Crespo has grown tiresome, and has led to inappropriate behavior and verbal exchanges during council meetings. So as part of our recommendation, we are cautioning Rodriguez that she must refrain from continuing to engage in these types of outburst, no matter where, or from the provocation comes from. And while he is not on the ballot, Crespo would be well advised to follow the same advice. Vote Aceituno and Rodriguez.
Montebello Municipal Election
The City of Montebello has received a great deal of scrutiny in recent months for it’s past handling of its finances, including questionable and possibly illegal use of federal funds and taxes. Former staff and elected officials routinely neglected their fiduciary duties as the overseers of the people’s money, throwing the city into a financial, political, and ethical quagmire.
The city’s current staff and council are for the most part new and are attempting to institute changes to right past bad practices, however, in doing so, some are still too quick to place blame for the city’s predicament on those informing taxpayers on the issues, rather than embracing true transparency to move the city forward.
That being said, EGP makes the following ballot recommendations:
City Council – Two Seats
We are recommending that the two incumbents Alberto Perez and Christine Cortez be re-elected.
In the case of Ms. Cortez, however, we do feel that she needs to tone down her reactions to a more professional tone in the future, and offer more constructive suggestions as to how to move forward. She does, however, also play an important role in that she is unwilling to just quietly accept what is presented to her, and is willing to demand greater transparency in the city’s financial dealings.
With Montebello in the throws of a financial crisis and reorganization of sorts, we feel that electing two new members to the council could be too disruptive at this time.
Montebello City Clerk and City Treasurer
There are new candidates for two city elected positions, city clerk and city treasurer. These are no incumbents seeking re-election.
Since all of the candidates for the two seats are new, we did not feel we had sufficient information to make an endorsement for either position. But we look forward to endorsing once these seats have incumbents in the coming years. No recommendation.
Measure O (Residential Trash Hauling Bids) would require that all residential trash-hauling contracts be put out to competitive bids, and no evergreen contracts allowed. Though we believe that city businesses should be allowed to hire their own trash collection companies, a Yes Vote on Measure O would be a good step toward ensuring fairness in the awarding of city contracts. Vote Yes
Vernon Municipal Election
The City of Vernon has also faced a great deal of controversy and criticism in how it operates, so much so that it narrowly avoided being dissolved by a state measure introduced specifically for that purpose.
To assuage critics, the city agreed to take a number of reform measures, recommended by an ethics advisor, state legislators and specially formed city commissions. Two separate ballots will be used.
The Nov. 8 ballot will include four measures (Measures A, B, C, D):
Measure A (Term Limits) asks Vernon voters to decide if city council member terms should be limited to two terms, with a lifetime ban on serving on the city council after having served those two terms. Vote Yes
Measure B (Prevailing Wages) asks Vernon voters to ensure payment of prevailing wages on public works projects. Vote Yes
Measure C (At-Will Employees) asks Vernon voters to remove a provision that mandates at-will employment for city employees. An at-will employee can be terminated for good, bad, or no cause. If passed this measure will not immediately apply to existing employees. Vote Yes
Measure D (City Administrator Job Security and Salary) asks Vernon voters to eliminate restrictions on the city council’s authority to remove the city administrator and to reduce the city administrator’s compensation. Currently the city council must first give the city administrator 30 days notice and hold a public hearing before removing him or her. The city council also cannot remove a city administrator within the first 90 days of the election of a city councilmember, unless the city administrator has been convicted of a felony or crime related to their job. Vote Yes
The remaining six measures (Measures E, F, G, H, I, J) will be decided by voters on November 22:
Measure E (Housing Commission) asks Vernon voters to require that the city maintain a Housing Commission. Currently a housing commission exists, but it can be modified or dissolved by a city council vote. Measure E would ensure that any changes to the housing commission will go to voters first. Vote Yes
Measure F (Vernon Reform Monitor) asks Vernon voters to decide if the city will be required to retain an Independent Reform Monitor for the next four years. Vote Yes
Measure G (City Council Vacancies) asks Vernon voters to prohibit the city council from making appointments to fill city council vacancies. Instead a special election will be held whenever a seat opens up between regular elections. Vote Yes
Measure H (City Council Compensation Increases) asks Vernon voters to prevent compensation increases for city council members to exceed cost of living adjustments. Vote Yes
Measure I (Light and Power Department Funds) asks Vernon voters to remove restrictions on the use of revenues from the city’s Light and Power enterprise deposited into the city’s General Fund. This repeals a previous measure that prevented Light and Power revenue from being used by any other department. Vote Yes
Measure J (Competitive Bidding) asks Vernon voters to decide if the city will be required to establish an open and competitive bidding process for city service contracts by city ordinance. Currently the city charter provides that no bidding is necessary unless otherwise decided by the city council. Vote YesPrint This Post
November 3, 2011 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.