Beverly Hills Mayor Benjamin H. Stansbury has stepped up the battle for control of the City Council in next April's election, accusing fellow Councilman Robert K. Tanenbaum and his supporters of making an "unbridled grab for power."
Stansbury's remarks at Tuesday night's council meeting were part of an eight-page response to Tanenbaum's recent announcement that he would not support the mayor and fellow Councilwoman Donna Ellman should they decide to run for reelection.
"In the past, my style has been to ignore provocative statements that are only political in nature," Stansbury said, "but this frontal attack . . . demands a response."
Stansbury accused Tanenbaum of being supported by a group of dissidents that for more than 10 years has used "distortion, innuendo, rumor, character assassination and near libel" to wage an "internal war" against the City Council on a variety of issues ranging from the development of industrial areas to the expansion of the Civic Center.
"The dissidents have laid down their challenge of open aggression in their unbridled grab for power, and I, for one, do not intend to turn over your city to them by default," said Stansbury directing his comments to the television cameras broadcasting the council meeting over the city's cable channel.
When Stansbury finished, Tanenbaum, who was jotting down notes during much of the speech, responded.
"What is regrettable is that, in some fashion, these issues now become very personal," Tanenbaum said. "My wish to see new faces on the council in April does not in any way indicate that I have a personal dislike for you or for Donna. That is not the case.
"You are finishing up your eighth year on the council and Donna is finishing up her 12th year, and I think that that is long enough," he said. "I feel there are other people in the community who share my point of view and who would like to run. I would like to encourage that."
The remarks by Tanenbaum and Stansbury led other council members to express concern about the escalation of campaign rhetoric in the council chambers.
Councilwoman Charlotte Spadaro said Stansbury's use of the word dissident disturbed her. "These are not dissidents, they are people who care about Beverly Hills," she said.
Ellman said that she was "deeply concerned that the (council's) podium was becoming a political platform. I don't think it is the place for it."
The April election is seen as critical because three of the five council seats are up for election. Spadaro's four-year term expires along with Stansbury's and Ellman's. Tanenbaum does not face reelection until 1990.
Tanenbaum has been seeking to wrest control of the council from the three-member majority of Ellman, Stansbury and Maxwell H. Salter. His critics on the council have accused him of disrupting the council meetings.
Tanenbaum has been in the minority on a number of issues recently. He was the only council member to vote that any cost overruns in the $87-million Civic Center should be paid for by cutting back the project. He also criticized the city's handling of negotiations to lease the city-owned Greystone Mansion.
At one study session, Tanenbaum lashed out at Salter, calling him a "moral and intellectual cretin."
Tanenbaum managed to derail a plan for the city to pay for Stansbury and his wife to take a trip to Finland, saying it would be an improper use of city funds.