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City Directors Divulge Secret Votes in Effort to End Furor

December 25, 1986|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — Three city directors who had refused to divulge how they voted in a secret ballot two weeks ago relented Tuesday and named their choices, saying they are sorry the incident happened and want to end the controversy.

Directors Jo Heckman, William Thomson and Loretta Thompson-Glickman said in a joint statement that they had hoped the issue of the secret vote appointing William Cathey to a vacant seat on the Board of Directors would fade away so the city could get on with more important issues.

But continuing news articles over the last two weeks convinced them that the only way to end the controversy was to let the public know how they voted.

'Put Aside This Matter'

"In view of the continuing objection by the press . . . we are making this statement in an effort to put aside this matter," the three directors said in their statement. "There are simply too many significant issues before the community to allow this to divert attention from the significant issues."

Thomson said he hopes the disclosure of how the three voted will end the controversy once and for all and allow the board to get on with its work.

"I don't know what else remains to be done, or what anyone would want to come from us now," he said. "This is the last step we're in a position to take."

The vote took place on Dec. 8 while the board was deciding whom to appoint to the seat vacated by William Bogaard. Bogaard resigned last month to devote more time to his job as executive vice president and general counsel for First Interstate Bancorp.

Took Secret Vote

Just before the vote, Mayor John Crowley announced that board members would not have to reveal whom they voted for. Instead, each board member marked an unsigned ballot and put it into a large envelope.

While Crowley and directors Rick Cole and Jess Hughston divulged after the meeting whom they voted for, Thompson-Glickman, Heckman and Thomson refused, saying it was no one's business.

According to the statement Tuesday, Thomson voted for former Board of Education President Kathryn Nack on the first of two secret votes taken by the board. The first vote resulted in a 3-3 tie between Nack and Cathey.

Thomson said he then switched his vote on the second ballot to Cathey--giving him a 4-2 majority--to avoid another tie.

Thomson said that if he had not switched his vote, the board would have been forced to break the tie by drawing lots between the six candidates who were vying for the vacant seat, even though Cathey and Nack were the only candidates to receive any votes from the board. Thomson said picking a successor by lots would have been inappropriate.

According to the statement, Thompson-Glickman voted for Cathey on both ballots. She cited his consistent support for revitalizing northwest Pasadena and his "balanced approach" in making decisions.

Heckman, who proposed the secret ballot, voted for Nack on both ballots, saying Nack already had demonstrated her leadership and ability to handle the workload of a city director during her tenure on the Board of Education.

Of the three other board members, Crowley voted for Nack on both ballots, and Cole and Hughston voted for Cathey on both ballots.

Unanimous Vote

The board followed its two secret votes with an officially recorded unanimous vote appointing Cathey to the vacant seat.

Thomson said he, Thompson-Glickman and Heckman first thought about divulging how they voted last week after a board meeting at which each board member spoke out on the secret vote.

"It was an attempt to answer the questions and move on to other things," he said, adding that most residents he talked to supported the reasons given for taking a secret vote.

Heckman said the board's discussion last week had no affect on dispelling the controversy and left board members wringing their hands over what to do.

"I really thought it would die out," she said. "God, I've really had it."

'Tempest in Teapot'

Both Heckman and Thomson said they regretted the vote that turned into what Thomson called a "tempest in a teapot." Thompson-Glickman could not be reached for comment.

Heckman said City Atty. Victor Kaleta had advised board members that the secret vote did not violate the state's open-meeting law, called the Brown Act, that requires city governments to conduct their business in public.

However, board members later learned of an opinion from the attorney general's office on a similar vote that cast doubt on the legality of the procedure.

"Maybe if we had all the facts we would have done something different," Heckman said. "But we didn't."

Thomson added, "I regret we went down this path when we didn't have to."

Nothing Wrong

While both Heckman and Thomson said they regretted the controversy that followed the vote, they said they do not believe they did anything wrong.

Thomson said the board was not trying to hide anything from the public and only wanted to pick the best candidate for the vacant seat without alienating the other candidates.

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