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Pasadena May Wait to Act on Charter

July 17, 1986|DEBORAH HASTINGS | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — After months of waiting for a report on whether to change the city's governmental structure, members of the Board of City Directors now say they may not act on it immediately.

Recommendations in the 81-page report delivered to city officials last week by the Charter Review Committee include placing two nonbinding advisory questions on the November ballot that ask if Pasadena should retain its present city-manager form of government and if the city should have at-large elections for mayor.

City directors said this week that there may not be time to act on the proposals because only one meeting of the board is scheduled before the deadline for placing issues on the November ballot.

'Not Going to Have Time'

"I'm anxious for it to go ahead, but I don't think we're going to make it," said Director Jess Hughston. "We're not going to have time to do it right, and I regret that."

Another problem is that on Monday, directors voted to place a bond issue on the November ballot to finance a new jail and police building. Getting that ready for the upcoming election takes precedence over the committee recommendation, Hughston said.

"That really comes first," Hughston said. "I don't want (the advisory vote) to interfere with the police building."

Mayor John Crowley said that he, too, is concerned and "ambivalent" about placing an advisory vote on the November ballot because of the bond issue.

"I have the impression that there is similar ambivalence on the part of at least two or three other members," Crowley said.

'Basically Happy'

Director Rick Cole said that he was "basically happy" with the committee's recommendations and thought that the advisory vote was "sensible" and "the best way out the current debate."

The board appointed the 11-member committee of business and community leaders in March amid a heated controversy over changing the structure of City Hall.

At issue in the debate was whether to do away with the city manager's position, Pasadena's most powerful nonelective office, and whether to elect directly the mayor, a post that now is filled on a rotating basis by the board member with the most seniority who has not been mayor before.

In the past several months, Cole and Hughston have been the only directors to favor such changes. Jo Heckman, Loretta Thompson-Glickman, Bill Thomson, Bill Bogaard and Crowley have expressed varying degrees of opposition.

After four months of study and public meetings with several civic and citizen groups, the committee recommended that the board retain the current form of government, but place the advisory questions before the electorate.

It also recommended that the board amend the city charter so that the number of city directors' votes needed to fire, hire or overrule the city manager would be four instead of five.

City directors said this week that they will discuss the committee recommendations on Monday at 7 p.m., their last scheduled meeting before a monthlong vacation break.

Any decision to place the advisory questions on the ballot must be made then because the election deadline for such issues is Aug. 8.

Action Expected

Committee Chairman Charles McKenney said Tuesday that although he is uncertain what action the board will take on the report, "I don't think they will do nothing. I assume the board will take that report and exercise their good judgment and do what they think is best."

The controversy over Pasadena's form of government began more than a year ago when the board unsuccessfully attempted to form an assessment district that would have levied yearly fees of about $96 on property owners to pay for street repairs.

Hundreds of angry residents opposed the planned district and forced city directors to abandon it.

City Manager Donald F. McIntyre, who originally proposed the district to the board, took the brunt of most of the opposition. Citizens for Representative Government, a vocal, grass-roots organization that formed during the assessment district controversy, made the ouster of McIntyre as its rallying cry.

McIntyre Asked to Quit

According to City Hall sources, three city directors asked McIntyre to retire earlier this year, a request which he refused.

Citizens for Representative Government subsequently led two unsuccessful petition drives to radically change City Hall.

Under its proposals, the city manager's job would be eliminated in favor of a full-time, directly elected mayor.

Ozro Anderson, one of the group's leaders, said Tuesday that the committee's recommendations "should be about the minimum that the board should go along with."

Anderson, whose group failed to get enough signatures to place its proposal on the November ballot, said that he and other members are still collecting signatures for the spring election in "a half-hearted sort of way. We've kicked around several options. One of them is to go ahead and let the board make fools of themselves.

"If they put this on the ballot, it would show signs that they are not completely insensitive to the feelings of the electorate. Failure to do that should brand them in the eyes of the public as a board that is not really with it."

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