A private forum attended by three candidates for the La Canada Flintridge City Council Tuesday was boycotted by the remaining four candidates, who said the sponsoring group was biased and favored pro-growth policies.
Incumbent Joan Feehan, former Councilman John Hastings and Public Safety Commissioner Jim Edwards appeared before about 40 members of the Citizens for Responsible Leadership at the La Canada Public Library. Each candidate was allowed 20 minutes to make a campaign statement and answer questions from a survey the group has mailed to 6,738 residents.
The format of the closed-door meeting was unusual. Only members of the citizens' group and a few journalists were permitted in the audience. Candidates were not allowed to hear each other's presentations.
Group members in the audience were given evaluation forms on which to rate each speaker. After tabulating the results, the group plans to publish its endorsement of one or more candidates.
Critics have said the group is clearly supporting only pro-growth candidates. Candidate Peter Kudrave, who did not attend the meeting, said most of the people whose names were printed on the group's letterhead were associated with previous campaigns of Hastings and Feehan.
"What we have here is a pro-development group, supporting pro-development candidates, hiding behind an innocuous name and posing as civically minded and nonpartisan," said Kudrave.
"As for the public opinion survey, one should not be the least surprised when the Citizens for Responsible Leadership endorse one or all of the known pro-development candidates," said Kudrave.
Citizens for Responsible Leadership has about 80 members, according to chairman Sid McVicker. Their purpose, he said, is to inform the public of both short- and long-term issues in the campaign. McVicker denied that the group had been previously aligned with any of the candidates and said many of its members have been long involved in local politics.