PASADENA — After thousands of protests from angry residents and threats to recall the Board of City Directors, a controversial proposed assessment district appeared to have been defeated this week and the future of the city's governmental structure seemed uncertain.
Monday night's third and final protest hearing on the assessment district was the culmination of more than eight hours of hostile testimony from residents who demanded the firing of City Manager Donald McIntyre and the recall of the Board of City Directors.
The district would have cost the average owner of a single-family home $60 to $90 for repairs to sidewalks, curbs, gutters and street lights.
Bowing to the controversy, most city directors said that the plan was "badly handled" and should be tabled. A final decision on the matter was scheduled for July 2. Director Jess Hughston, however, went a step further at the close of Monday's hearing and called for a reorganization of city government that includes a directly elected, full-time mayor and abolishment of the city manager's position.
Not Criticizing McIntyre
Under the City Charter, Pasadena's city manager is appointed. The mayor's job, a largely ceremonial position with little power, is rotated among the seven-member Board of City Directors.
Hughston repeated his request on Tuesday during the regular weekly meeting of the board.
"I think it's a matter that this board ought to consider. The issue is the organization of government, it's not Mr. McIntyre," Hughston said. "I deplored the remarks that were made about you," he told McIntyre, who alternately looked at the ceiling and down at his hands during Hughston's remarks.
A few hours before Tuesday's board meeting, Hughston said during an interview, "I have no quarrel with our present city manager. I'm not out to dump Don McIntyre. It's the type of government that I think should be changed.
"I have always been very interested in this. It's something I've considered ever since I've been on the board."
2 Directors Oppose Idea
The board agreed that a three-member subcommittee should be formed to study Hughston's suggestion, but Directors Jo Heckman and Loretta Thompson-Glickman, former mayors of Pasadena, voiced disapproval.
"I'm afraid I'm biased and my mind is already made up," said Heckman, who declined to serve on the subcommittee. "Me too," Glickman added, "but that's why I want to be on it."
Appointment of the subcommittee was deferred until Mayor Bill Bogaard, who was not present during the discussion, returns for next week's meeting.
Hughston said his suggestion was designed "to take advantage of this hullabaloo over the assessment district. The city has outgrown its council-city manager type of government."
Hughston's proposal came directly after two local activists announced Monday night that they had launched a petition drive to amend the City Charter to require directly elected positions of mayor, city attorney, city clerk and controller.
Bill Pompey and Ozro Anderson, who were active in recall efforts against city directors several years ago, said they would put their petition drive on hold while awaiting the outcome of Hughston's proposal to the board. Pompey said Tuesday that Hughston's suggestion is "enough for now."
The controversy generated by the proposed assessment district and its subsequent effects on Pasadena's government have shaken City Hall, officials said this week.
City directors, who voted 5 to 2 earlier this year to approve the district, with Hughston and Bill Thomson dissenting, now say they "bungled it" and will send the plan "back to the drawing board."
The district would have levied fees ranging from $60.11 to $96.67 for an average single-family home to pay for $17 million worth of repairs to sidewalks, curbs, gutters and street lights over 10 years.