Recent attempts to oust outspoken clean-air advocates Sabrina Schiller from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and (last) week's successful ouster of Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Derek Shearer leave me a bit speechless.
It's just as well, since speaking up seems to be the fast track to retirement these days. Schiller, an appointee of the state Senate Rules Committee, took records of her colleague's dismal clean-air votes out to her constituents and was accused of "agitating the troops." Shearer, a Santa Monica City Council appointee, called a colleague "inefficient," which led to charges he was "discrediting the planning process."
In both instances political rivals overreacted, forcing the public debate on frivolous overstatements, not on whether these two maverick activists had the right to hold their own agencies accountable to the public they serve. Their job performances were never in question, simply because Schiller and Shearer are two very talented and dedicated public officials.
As political appointees, these public officials are never required to face voters or, as long as they remain silent, are never required to publicly defend their vital decisions. As long as they play quietly, they can stay. At the first murmur of disparate public comment, they are forced out.