HAWTHORNE — The shooting of Councilman David York last week cast a shadow on city government here and left the five-member council with only three active members, who must agree unanimously to approve most council actions.
The city's predicament became evident when a 2-1 split forced the council to postpone a decision on how to fill the vacancy caused by the election of Councilwoman Betty Ainsworth to the mayor's post. At least 100 citizens crammed the council chambers Monday night hoping to find out what the council would do.
York, 48, a former Hawthorne police lieutenant, was shot Friday night by a man who stole his car from the parking lot of the Galleria at South Bay in Redondo Beach. The councilman was in guarded but stable condition Wednesday at County-Harbor UCLA Medical Center.
Outgoing Mayor Guy Hocker began his last meeting Monday by reassuring the standing-room-only audience that York "was doing fine."
Visited by Councilman
Councilman Chuck Bookhammer, who like York was first elected in 1983 and was reelected Nov. 5, said he had visited "my good friend David" at the hospital. Like Bookhammer, York was to have been sworn in to a new term Monday night.
"He is in a lot of pain," but his spirits have been bolstered by an outpouring of support, Bookhammer reported. "It is heartwarming to see the community gather around him."
By Monday night, two dozen people had donated blood for York, supplying more than double the 10 pints he required immediately, although more blood will be needed later when a second operation is performed. On Tuesday, city officials used the City Hall public address system to announce that transportation to the hospital was available for blood donors. Three city employees and a friend of York went.
Police Chief Kenneth Stonebraker told the council that Hawthorne police had volunteered to assist Redondo Beach police in their investigation of the shooting. The chief said that Redondo Beach police were using advanced technology in an attempt to find prints of York's assailant in the car, which was found--stripped and burned--Sunday in Compton. Redondo Beach police would say only that the investigation is continuing.
Shot in Abdomen
The councilman was shot in the abdomen about 9:40 p.m. Friday as he, his wife Judy, their 8-year-old daughter and her friend were preparing to drive home from the Galleria, police said.
The four were getting into York's maroon 1985 Chevrolet El Camino when a man walked up, demanded the keys and then fired a blue steel semiautomatic almost immediately at York, who was seated in the driver's seat.
Police described the suspect as a tall, slim black man, age 20 to 30, who had a goatee and was wearing a blue jacket and black pants.
The bullet entered York's left side and lodged in his right, causing extensive damage to his small and large intestines, the city spokesman said. Surgeons performed a temporary colostomy, which is expected to be removed in six to seven weeks.
Will Remain on Council
It was unclear when York will be able to resume his council duties. City Atty. Michael Adamson said he can be sworn in later and will remain a councilman in the meantime.
His absence, however, leaves the council with only three members, since Councilwoman Ainsworth was elected mayor Nov. 5 and was sworn in Monday night. Adamson said state law requires a majority--at least three--of the five-member council for passage of important actions, including resolutions, ordinances and payments.
That requirement forced a delay in deciding how to fill the seat vacated by Ainsworth. Council members Bookhammer and Steve Andersen support a special election. Ainsworth said she favors appointing Virginia (Ginny) McGinnis Lambert, who came in third in the two-seat council elections.
In a spirited discussion, Lambert supporters cited the absence of York, who favors a special election, as a reason for appointing her immediately.
'Why Have Five?'
"If a city could run with three council members, why have five?" asked Eileen Baumann.
"What if one of you gets hurt or disabled?" queried her husband Wolfgang.
Lambert sat in the audience, saying nothing.
April 8 is the earliest a special election could be held. A city spokesman said it is doubtful that York would be able to attend the Dec. 9 council meeting. If the council does not act by Dec. 25, state law mandates a special election.
Andersen suggested that a videotape of the lengthy Monday council meeting be sent to York so he can keep up with the city's business.
Then he turned to the camera in a direct address to the injured council member: "Get well, Babe. We want you back."