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City May Add Teeth to Censure Procedures : City Council: Proposal suggests depriving offending members of benefits such as travel expenses. Penalties would not apply to a proposed action against Councilman Isaac Richard, however.

August 06, 1992|EDMUND NEWTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PASADENA — A week before a vote on whether to censure one of its own, the City Council decided Tuesday that repudiation of a member who disrupts meetings and insults city staff is not enough.

"It's a ridiculous exercise to go through unless it carries some (penalty) with it," Councilman William Paparian said, proposing penalties for offending council members.

All four members of the seven-member council present during the late-night discussion voted to direct City Atty. Victor Kaleta to draft a measure depriving censured council members of such privileges as travel expenses.

The measure, which could not take effect before late September, would not apply to the proposed censure of Councilman Isaac Richard, who was absent Tuesday. But the council members clearly had Richard on their minds.

Last week council members supported an investigation into the Police Department's failure to report a 911 call from the estranged wife of Police Chief Jerry Oliver. After Richard voiced heated opposition, the council voted to consider censuring him.

Richard charged that the investigation amounted to "a lynching" directed at the black police chief and accused Mayor Rick Cole of being a bigot. Richard declined to comment Wednesday.

The flamboyant councilman has drawn criticism for other incidents in recent weeks. Last month he publicly apologized to Housing Administrator Phyllis Mueller for directing angry words and threats at her during a council meeting. And he faces misdemeanor charges in Pasadena Municipal Court next week for allegedly brandishing a gun at some teen-agers.

Paparian initially sought to have fines of up to $5,000 imposed on council members who are repeatedly censured. But Kaleta said the council would probably have to sue to collect the fines.

"It would make a mockery of government to be suing one of our colleagues to collect fines," Councilman William Thomson said, urging Paparian to limit the penalties to privileges not protected by the City Charter.

The censure penalty would deprive an offending council member of travel expenses, city-financed computer equipment, insurance benefits, Tournament of Roses tickets and other privileges.

A first-time offender would lose privileges for a year. A second offense would mean loss of privileges through the remainder of the offender's council term.

Though they voted for the measure, Cole, Paparian, Thomson and Councilwoman Kathryn Nack made it clear they found it somewhat repugnant.

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