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Biancardi Quits Council, Takes Parting Shots at 2 Colleagues

April 29, 1993|ANDREW LEPAGE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

COVINA — Robert Biancardi, the lone Covina council member opposing the city utility tax that sparked a successful drive for a recall election this summer, resigned Wednesday after serving one year of a four-year term.

Biancardi's surprise announcement Wednesday morning, contained in a letter addressed to fellow council members, did not say why he chose to quit.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Biancardi said he had been contemplating the move for months and ultimately decided to quit for personal reasons. He cited his struggles to balance his family life and printing business in Azusa with the affairs of his troubled hometown, where all council members face a recall election this July.

In his resignation, meanwhile, Biancardi was quick to shoot barbs at some of his colleagues. He wrote that, "to my dismay, it appears that Mayor Henry Morgan and Councilman John King are more interested in representing themselves than they are in representing what's good for Covina."

The letter continues: "The strategic avoidance of decisions regarding vital, even life-threatening issues is an offense to the citizens. In particular, Mayor Morgan's arrogant disregard for the people indicates that he has no intention of representing them."

Morgan repudiated Biancardi's allegations Wednesday, saying the freshman councilman is probably linked to several groups, including the one behind the council recall drive, who want to oust him.

"A year into his term he's throwing in the towel and blaming everyone else," Morgan said. "He comes out his first term, doesn't get his way, and comes up with garbage like this. He can't cite one example of what he's alleging."

King could not be reached for comment. Morgan, who when contacted Wednesday morning, said he was not aware of Biancardi's resignation but could only assume that Biancardi is bitter because Morgan has not supported the city's negotiations to contract with Los Angeles County for fire and paramedic services. Biancardi supports the merger idea.

Morgan said the wording of Biancardi's resignation letter seemed to be similar to that of political literature distributed by the council recall group and of some economic development officials who, the mayor says, want to oust him because they oppose his decisions as a board member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Biancardi said he acted on his own and is not involved with any recall effort.

The fledgling Covina Citizens for Good Government issued a press release Wednesday that stated Biancardi "correctly pointed out that, under the so-called leadership of Henry Morgan, the current City Council is more concerned about self-promotion than what is good for our city."

Biancardi said several of his council colleagues have sacrificed their integrity by, among other things, refusing to support the move to dissolve the city's Fire Department and contract with the county. He said they oppose the move because they fear it would undermine their political survival during the recall campaign.

Many citizens have attended several council workshops on the fire-protection issue, and some are concerned that the county might not be able to provide the same level of service over the years. Also, some worry that the merger might end up costing the city more money.

The city is waiting for the county to give more exact figures as to how much the service would cost. The county has given no guarantees as to how expensive those services might get in the future.

In addition to the fire-protection issue, Biancardi and Morgan, who is serving his second term as mayor after 15 years on the council, have disagreed over the effectiveness of City Manager John Thomson.

Morgan has wholeheartedly supported Thomson, while Biancardi has tried to get him fired, alleging that Thomson manages with an out-of-date, autocratic leadership style that has led to poor morale among City Hall employees.

Biancardi, who said he thinks he would have survived the recall in July, said he has no plans to run for a political office in the near future. He said he hopes the council will let voters decide on his replacement in a special election this fall, rather than appoint a successor.

City Clerk Joey Southall said the council has 30 days from the date of Biancardi's resignation to decide whether to appoint someone, or hold off and let voters decide during a special election. That election must be held no less than 90 days after the resignation.

The city might have to hold a special election this fall anyway, if a majority of the council members are recalled in the July 13 election.

If the council opts to appoint someone now to the vacant seat, that council member would be subject to the recall, Southall said.

If a majority of voters decides to recall Biancardi's seat on the council, the appointed council member will be ousted. If not, the appointee will serve until the seat is up for election in 1996.

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