REDONDO BEACH — To Mayor Barbara Doerr, it smacked of cheap political retribution. To her nemesis, Councilman Archie Snow, it represented a textbook example of good politics.
Snow, joined by three of his four City Council colleagues, launched an all-out assault on Doerr this week, voting to remove the mayor from her prestigious position as delegate to the Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities.
Snow acknowledged at the same time that Doerr's name appears on a list--which some at City Hall are calling Snow's hit list--of political foes he is determined to keep from influential city positions.
The council voted 4 to 1, with Councilwoman Marcia Martin dissenting, to appoint recently elected Councilman Jack Chapman as delegate to the league and Councilman Ronald Cawdrey, whom Snow helped to survive a recall effort in June, as alternate. Both Chapman and Cawdrey are closely aligned with Snow.
The local division of the league, which represents 84 cities in Los Angeles County, meets once a month and determines what issues and legislation the cities will promote or oppose in California. The group routinely votes on resolutions pertaining to local problems, such as hazardous-waste disposal, and helps determine what will be discussed at the league's annual state convention.
The mayor, visibly enraged by the insurrection, immediately vetoed the action and launched an assault of her own, likening Snow's behavior to "Chicago-style" politics.
"I accuse you of unscrupulous political tactics," blasted Doerr, who has represented the city at the league since she took office in 1981. "Whether or not I am the official delegate of this city. . . . I can continue attending the meetings."
Snow, not to be outdone, moved to override the mayor, saying, "I am not going to tolerate a veto." Snow said Doerr has not been attending meetings regularly and said she has occasionally voted against the direction of the City Council.
Records kept by the league show that Doerr has attended just two of its seven meetings this year. The last monthly meeting she attended, according to the records, was in April.
"The reason I am bringing this up is not retribution," Snow said. "We as a council have adopted plans and directions and the mayor has not voted as directed." As an example, he said Doerr did not vote in favor of a nuclear freeze during a league convention in San Diego several years ago, despite council endorsement of the freeze.
Doerr said in a interview that she did not vote for the freeze because she thought it was inappropriate for the league, a nonpartisan state lobbying group, to become involved in national political issues.
"It had become a political thing, Republican versus Democrat," Doerr, a Republican, said of the freeze. Snow is a Democrat.
Snow was frustrated in his effort to have the last word Monday night, however, when his colleagues decided to consider the veto next week as part of a comprehensive review of mayoral and council committee assignments. Snow was not pleased with the decision, chiding the council for "prolonging the agony."
The incident capped more than a month of political bickering and squabbling between Snow, the council's senior member and unofficial ringleader, and Doerr, a mayor whom Snow and other council members worked unsuccessfully to defeat in her reelection bid last March.
In that election, Doerr turned back a challenge by Jerry Goddard, a two-term councilman who has since retired from the council. Goddard, a self-described friend of business and pro-growth forces in the city, was unable to unseat Doerr, who led a slate of candidates on a so-called slow-growth platform. While Doerr prevailed in the mayoral race, two of Goddard's allies defeated candidates aligned with Doerr in the City Council elections in May.
As a result, Doerr has been left virtually isolated at council meetings and is constantly at odds with Snow, who has assumed the leadership role in Goddard's absence. Snow makes no secret of the fact that he would prefer to be mayor, a post he says he intended to seek until Goddard announced his bid.
The incident involving the League of California Cities also brought to public view a fact many at City Hall had suspected since May, when Snow swept to a decisive reelection victory in District 4: Snow has been working systematically to remove residents who had opposed his candidacy from city commissions, committees and boards.
Doerr accused Snow of having posted in his office a list of residents he intends to keep from serving on city panels. The list, she said, includes her.
Snow acknowledged the existence of the list, and even produced copies of it after the meeting. The list, actually a campaign brochure distributed by Val Dombrowski, Snow's opponent in the May election, includes the names of city officials and residents who endorsed Dombrowski's campaign. Doerr was one of them.