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Tim Myers: Consensus on council overrated

Myers' Musings

Posted: June 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

In the 1990s, which now actually stands some significant time in the past, Santa Clarita enjoyed the services of City Councilwoman Jill Klajic.

Klajic maintains some prominence in Santa Clarita city history. In 1990, she held the distinction of the first candidate for City Council to unseat a sitting incumbent, the hapless and unlucky Dennis Koontz.

A mere four years later, she garnered an additional distinction: The second sitting incumbent dislodged (narrowly) from the City Council.

Finally, in 1996, she obtained her final historical distinction: The first person voted off the City Council to come storming back and retake a seat.

Now, Klajic made herself (unapologetically) a thorn in the side of development interests due to a recovering real estate market in the late 1990s. For those that currently drive the cross-valley connector that transits the SCV from the 5 to the 14, know that she once sent a letter on city stationery to various public entities stating such a project duplicative since Highway 138 just south of Gorman served pretty much the same purpose.

She also made no bones about her support for the actions of SCOPE, or Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, and its attempts at limiting or delaying growth.

But the most memorable chapter of Klajic's political life, at least to me, occurred in December 1999 during the so-called paperweight throwing/tossing/handing-over incident during the first double cross of the mayoral rotation.

For calendar year 1999, long-serving council member Jo Anne Darcy served in the mayor's role, and the normal "rotation" dictated that Klajic should assume the chair and gavel in 2000. That year marked a two-seat election for the City Council, and incumbent Jan Heidt, who already announced her intention to retire from the council. Certain other factions hoped to repeat the ousting of Klajic a la 1994, and saw an opportunity: What became the great mayoral rotation double cross of 1999.

The meeting began innocuously enough. Darcy handed out engraved paperweights to the other council members in the form of a thank-you gift for her mayoral term then ending. Then the vote for the new mayor came.

Three of the five City Council members refused to endorse Jill Klajic for mayor. Then, all hell broke loose.

Depending on points of view and the interpretation of video taken at the time, Klajic and Heidt hurled screams and either threw/tossed/handed over the paperweight gifts at or to Darcy, who they expected to endorse Klajic for mayoral candidacy. This proved the denouement of Klajic's local political career. She would not stand for re-election in 2000, opening the way for both Cameron Smyth and Bob Kellar to win their first elections, and Klajic would eventually move from the area.

And prior to the election of TimBen Boydston in 2012, the most desultory period in city politics ensued, with little or no debate in City Council meetings or open signs of dissension, other than the brief sideways glance, with nearly all votes 5-0 with the council building a dull consensus favoring local business, development and a stream of capital and transportation improvements, briefly interrupted when Boydston claimed a seat on the council by appointment to fill out the unexpired term of Smyth and a 3-2 vote that deprived Waste Management of its historic monopoly on trash pickup.

Rumors existed of personality problems between the council members, which they kept submerged in the proudest tradition of Lutheran family life.

Well, after 12 years of dullness and muted public debate, I firmly find consensus overrated, and believe that it never hurts to heave a few proverbial paperweights back and forth in the council chamber. The people who recently elected Boydston endorsed the throwing of these paperweights and empowered Bob Kellar to take up the paperweight.

Boydston did not disappoint his constituents. On his first night of council duty, he refused to endorse Frank Ferry for mayor since he could not extract a promise of civility toward the general public speaking before the council.

He quickly revealed that a two-tier pay system existed between himself and the other four council members since his election constituted a new "employment" relationship.

And we hope for fireworks from Boydston in the discussion of the city's Chavez-like political sign ordinance.

For those that complain of this behavior, know that in a true democracy, someone opposes everything, even with supermajorities. We only protect democracy when the air runs thick with proverbial paperweights!

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident.

 

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