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Bowne Calls Mayoral Change 'Cronyism'

May 02, 1987|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

For Burbank Councilman Robert R. Bowne, the third time wasn't the charm. It was the last straw.

Bowne, 42, who has served on the council for 2 1/2 years, boycotted Friday's changing-of-the-guard ceremony at Burbank City Hall when he learned that his colleagues were going to pass over him again in their appointment of a mayor and vice mayor.

Council members pick the mayor and vice mayor from their own ranks, and by custom they do it on a rotating basis. Bowne believed he should have been in line for the mayor's seat before Mary E. Kelsey, Michael R. Hastings or Al F. Dossin, who were elected to the council two years ago--when he was already a member.

But as Kelsey stepped down Friday, Hastings was appointed as her replacement, and Dossin, who has been criticized for his refusal to participate in council activities and local functions, was chosen to be vice mayor.

Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard, who supported Kelsey, Hastings and Dossin when they ran for office, voted for both appointments.

In a written statement, Bowne said the appointment "once again demonstrated the political cronyism and back-room deal-making that has plagued this council for the past two years."

He complained that the rotation system does not exist in reality, and predicted that he will never serve as mayor as long as the current council members are in office.

The boycott cast a pall over the ceremony, and council members said they were upset with Bowne's behavior.

"I wish he had been here," Howard said. "I'm very disappointed."

Although the mayoralty is a ceremonial post without extra powers, council members obviously like the title. Howard has a license plate that says, "MSMAYOR."

3-Year-Old Controversy

Bowne's boycott was the latest chapter in a 3-year-old controversy.

When Kelsey, Hastings and Dossin were elected in 1985, Bowne had served nine months on the council. He had been appointed to replace Larry Tate, who resigned to pursue business interests outside California.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Howard, the only council veteran besides Bowne, was appointed mayor, while Kelsey, the top vote-getter in the election, was chosen as vice mayor.

Bowne opposed Kelsey's appointment, insisting that he should have been appointed vice mayor and that a "deal had been cut" among the Howard-backed council members.

Last year, when Kelsey was chosen mayor and Hastings, the second-highest vote-getter in the election, was appointed vice mayor, Bowne again cried foul. Howard and the others explained that they should be ahead of Bowne in the rotation because they were elected, whereas he was appointed.

Called It a Mandate

When Bowne faced the voters earlier this year and won a full term, he said the victory signified a mandate of the people.

It was an especially hard blow when he learned that not only was he passed over for mayor, but that the vice mayoralty would go to Dossin. Dossin has been frequently criticized by other council members for failing to attend city functions other than council meetings.

Hastings said he felt Dossin deserved a second chance.

"When you have a weak link in the chain, you don't assassinate it," Hastings said. "You support it. This will give us a chance to see what Al can do."

Hastings said he was not sure what effect Bowne's action would have on relationships within the council.

"This is damaging to the council and to the city," he said. "But I will not address it any further. The city business is far more important than this."

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