A campaign mailer favoring a proposition to increase the mayor's salary came under fire at this week's Inglewood City Council meeting because the letterhead looks very much like city stationery.
Community activist J. R. Richardson, with support from members of the audience, complained that the letter gave the appearance of an official city endorsement of the proposal.
The letterhead used in the pro-Proposition 1 mailer has "City of Inglewood California" printed across the top along with the address of City Hall and the city's "I" symbol. It differs from official city stationery in that it does not have the small city seal in a box next to the "I" and the lettering is a slightly lighter shade of blue.
At the bottom of the mailer is a disclaimer, "Not Printed at Public Expense." The mailer was financed by a group called Yes on Proposition 1 Committee, according to a spokeswoman at Mayor Edward Vincent's campaign headquarters.
The letter, distributed last week, contains a message from two former mayors, Merle Mergell and William Goedike, stating that Vincent deserves a pay raise because of the time it takes to conduct city business.
Both former mayors said they lost their businesses while in office.
The proposition, which is on Tuesday's ballot, would raise Vincent's pay from $10,800 to $49,621.
Richardson asked the council, "Who authorized two ex-mayors to use city stationery to send a political mailer? I know, Mr. Mayor, as an ex-jock you think winning is everything, but there are some honorable limits."
Vincent, who was an All-American football player at the University of Iowa in the 1950s, defended the mailer. "That letter is legal. It is not on city stationery and it is not printed at city expense."
City Atty. Howard Rosten said he agreed with the mayor's assessment.
Asked by a reporter if it was ethical to use stationery so similar to the city's, Vincent said, "These two gentlemen were mayors. This mailer didn't cost the city money."
In the mailer, the former mayors wrote, "By the time we finished our public service, our businesses were finished also. Each of us found it almost impossible to tend to our demanding public duties and to the needs of our businesses."
Vincent has said he took an unpaid leave of absence from his job with the county probation department four years ago because of the "12-, 14-, 16-hour days that being mayor requires."
Sterling Gordon, a leader of the No on Proposition 1 Committee, told the council, "Anyone who cannot function within the current financial structure should step down." He said that the mayor knew what the pay and time situation was when he ran for office.
Another ex-mayor, Lee Weinstein, whom Vincent defeated in 1982, in an interview came out against the measure, saying, "Proposition 1 would bring chaos. It would destabilize the relationship between the mayor and the professional, non-working staff."
Times staff writer Bob Williams contributed to this story.