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Shades of 'Back-Room Politics'

December 09, 1990

"I never thought it could happen here." Famous last words. At the last Diamond Bar City Council meeting, what is fast becoming known as Diamond Bar's "Gang of Three" brought 1940s Chicago-style back-room politics to Southern California.

During what was effectively a closed meeting in public, Mayor (Gary) Werner (refusing to allow public comment) railroaded the issue of appointing a new member to the council. Council members Werner, (John) Forbing and (Jay) Kim (apparently ignoring that the voting public put them in office) then bypassed that most fundamental right of every American citizen--the right to vote.

Their only argument to appoint was "holding a special election will cost almost $50,000, and we want to save taxpayer money." Fellows, it's our money, it's our right to vote.

This City Council writes checks for some $300,000 every two weeks. They spend $250 for a plaque to give to an ex-council member telling him what a great job he did. They spent some $80,000 studying trash and still don't have a decision. Our basic "right to vote" apparently came in second best to the "right to choose a garbage man." Doesn't make much sense unless something else is going on behind closed doors.

To make matters worse, even if you play the game by their "new" rules, you lose. Council members Werner, Forbing and Kim decided to submit two candidates each, hold interviews and then decide between themselves who they wanted on the council. What a process.

They interviewed seven "selected" applicants in less than 2 1/2 hours. That's political management Saddam Hussein style. Mayor Werner doesn't need a gun. He has a gavel.

It is tragic that while we have sons and daughters on the front lines in Iraq, willing to fight and die so that we can to live in democracy's showcase, our "elected" officials sell their ethics and our birthright under the guise of "we know what's best for you." Thanks guys, but, no thanks.


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