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'Embarrassing and Offensive' : Mayor's Comments Lambasted

December 19, 1985|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

HERMOSA BEACH — The City Council, angered by several remarks made by Mayor Jack Wood at a state Assembly committee hearing on surplus school property, voted this week to request that Wood's testimony be stricken from the official record of the hearing.

At the hearing last week in Torrance, Wood referred to the Hermosa Beach school district as "somewhere above the level of a baby-sitting service." He also complained that the city is being "held hostage" by the 700 children in the district, as the district tries to sell surplus properties at market value rather than offering them to the city at a discount.

Councilman John Cioffi, a former school trustee, led the assault on Wood Monday night, saying Wood's comments were "embarrassing and offensive."

"I don't think you could back up your statements with any facts," Cioffi told Wood.

Council Position

He added that Wood's remarks did not reflect the position of the City Council.

"I think our school district has done a good job," said Cioffi.

Wood made the remarks while testifying--at the council's request--on a bill being considered by the Assembly Local Government Committee that would repeal legislation allowing cities to purchase vacant school sites for less than market value. The Hermosa Beach City Council opposes the bill, but Cioffi and others said Wood went too far in relaying that sentiment to Assemblyman Gerald Felando (R-San Pedro), sponsor of the bill, and others at the hearing.

At the close the hearing, Felando characterized Wood's comments to the committee as "a perfect example of the arrogance of local government."

Personal Opinion

Wood explained to the council this week that the disputed remarks came after a 15-minute presentation he made to the committee that reflected the council's position on the Felando bill. He said that the disputed remarks were in response to questions asked of him and were his personal opinions.

"I really have no need to defend myself," Wood said. "My answers to those questions were certainly my own opinion."

Wood, who said he taught a business class to eighth graders last year at Valley School in Hermosa, said in an interview after the council meeting that a lot of people agree with his assessment of the city's schools "but won't admit it." He said it is "unfortunate" that the council wants his comments deleted from the record.

"I don't say things I don't mean," Wood said. "These kids are not sterling students."

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