PASADENA — The campaign for four seats on the Board of Directors in Tuesday's election has focused on attacks from challengers against the board that include complaints of secrecy, ineffectiveness and inaccessibility.
The four incumbents--Mayor John Crowley, Rick Cole, Jo Heckman and William L. Cathey--have admitted that there are problems in City Hall, but contend that they are not as bad as challengers claim.
They say that despite their mistakes, they deserve reelection because of a host of accomplishments and their experience in solving complex problems.
The candidates in the election, which is decided by district vote, are Crowley and Maurice Simpson in District 1; Cole and Billie Williams in District 2; Heckman, David Rodger Headrick and William M. Paparian in District 4, and Cathey, Nina W. Cash and Kathryn Nack in District 6.
May Be Runoff
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote on Tuesday, there will be a runoff election on April 21 between the two highest vote-getters for each seat.
Cash and Paparian have led the complaints by repeatedly questioning the board's handling of city affairs. Their complaints have centered on a secret vote in December in which Cathey was appointed to replace former Director William Bogaard, and what they say was the board's inappropriate handling of 700 Super Bowl tickets.
As part of the contract with the NFL to play the Jan. 25 game at the Rose Bowl, the city was allowed to buy 1,200 tickets. Each board member bought 100 tickets, which they said they resold at their $75 face value to friends, business acquaintances and political supporters.
Both Paparian and Cash have questioned the high number of tickets given to the board members and the lack of information about who bought the tickets and what they did with them.
Two directors have acknowledged that some of the tickets they sold at face value ended up in the hands of scalpers, who sold them for more than $75.
"This city is notorious for not opening up the process of government," Cash said. "The board seems to love these little labyrinthine plans."
Focus on Heckman
Paparian has focused most of his complaints against Heckman. But he said that other board members must also bear responsibility for the secret vote and the ticket controversy.
"It's time for a change," he said. "City Hall as a whole is giving the impression of not running with common sense, and most importantly not openly and publicly."
Cole said he agreed that city government could be opened up more, "but I don't think there is the widespread frustration and anger these candidates are expecting."
Heckman added that many of the issues Cash and Paparian have raised have been hashed and rehashed over the past few months.
"We make mistakes, but we own up to them," she said.
Secret Vote a Mistake
Heckman said the board has already agreed that the city must change its policy on handling Super Bowl tickets. The board has also admitted that the secret vote was a mistake, although members had been advised by City Atty. Victor Kaleta that the procedure was legal, she added.
"If we had to do it over, we wouldn't do it," Heckman said about the vote. "No one did it with a malicious intent."
Challengers Williams, Headrick and Simpson have also complained about how the board has dealt with crime and unemployment.
Williams, for example, said the board has particularly failed in northwest Pasadena, where crime and unemployment are major concerns.
"Crime is something we've been hollering about for years," said Williams, a founder of the Altadena chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. "All of a sudden, crime is a big issue for all of the candidates. Somehow I can't believe that."
Foot Patrols Started
The incumbents have countered by pointing to projects and police programs that they say have helped to reduce crime and unemployment, such as the construction of the King's Plaza shopping center in northwest Pasadena, and the start-up of police foot patrols in Old Pasadena and parts of the northwest.
Paparian's complaints against Heckman and the board have turned the race in District 4, which covers northeast Pasadena, into one of the liveliest.
Paparian is a Pasadena attorney who has raised $9,900 as of Feb. 19, the latest reporting date.
Heckman, who has raised $1,700, had originally suggested the secret vote to avoid alienating candidates seeking the appointment.
After the vote, the board only released the final tally, and would not say how each member voted, an action Paparian said was an apparent violation of the state's open meeting law. Directors Cole, Crowley and Jess Hughston disclosed their votes that day, but Heckman, William Thomson and Loretta Thompson-Glickman refused to do so for two weeks.
Paparian has also complained that Heckman is inaccessible and is more concerned with her real estate business than residents' problems.