Honorable Mayor Suzanne Fuentes and Members of the City Council,
Good evening. I am Mike Robbins, a 33-year El Segundo resident and a former El Segundo City Councilman.
REPORTS CITY CLERK Item I-7
Thank you to outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Carl Jacobson
First, I want to thank outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Carl Jacobson for his many decades of service to the City and the citizens of El Segundo, as Mayor, as Mayor Pro Tem, as Councilmember, on the Planning Commission, and in other capacities.
I had the privilege of serving on City Council with Carl Jacobson as mayor. We agreed on most issues, but when we disagreed, I always knew he was honest, intelligent, competent, and doing what he believed was in the best interest of the City and the citizens of El Segundo.
Congratulations to the newly elected City Council Members
Second, I would like to congratulate the newly elected City Council Members, Don Brann, Carol Pirsztuk, and Drew Boyles. The City Council election turned out the way I believe will be best for our City. I am disappointed with the passage of Measure B, the 50 percent increase in the Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax.
I hope that increase in City tax revenue will not trigger a clause in the union contracts to give automatic additional COLA pay raises to the City employees. Such a clause existed in the previous union contracts.
Third, I realize that the City Council meeting where the new Councilmembers are sworn in is meant to be brief and celebratory in nature. However, there is an item on the City Council agenda to change the way the mayor and mayor pro tem are elected, without a vote of the citizens of El Segundo to make that change. That item has many flaws that must be considered.
REPORTS – NEWLY ELECTED/CURRENT CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS Item L-8
Change in the current practice of electing the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem
Any change in the way the mayor and mayor pro tem are elected should be based on what is best for the citizens of El Segundo, and should be put before the voters of El Segundo. All of the pros and cons of such a change should be carefully considered before putting the question before the voters.
Recall that un-elected Mayor Bill Fisher, and outgoing Councilmembers Marie Fellhauer and Dave Atkinson, were all defeated in their reelection campaigns in part because of their violating El Segundo’s longtime tradition that the Mayor is elected to a two-year term, and absent good cause for removal, should serve a full two-year term.
At present, the mayor and mayor pro tem are elected by the new City Council members every two years, at the meeting after the City election where the newly elected Council members are sworn in. This system is a middle of the road compromise between having the mayor directly elected by the people to a four year term and having rotating mayors with one-year terms.
I believe it will not serve the voters of El Segundo well to change the term of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem from the current two years, which is half a City Council term, to one year or less. I believe the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
Here are some of the disadvantages.
First, the additional and specialized experience and knowledge gained during the first year as mayor will be lost with each annual rotation.
Second, it will break continuity. It will reduce the ability of the mayor to develop continuity in leadership, and to cultivate relationships and influence on behalf of the City with other government entities throughout the region.
Third, it will result in an ongoing Lame duck Syndrome for half to all of the one-year mayoral term. The mayor will not be taken as seriously by other elected officials in and outside El Segundo, and by City employees, if the mayor has a term of only one year. The mayor and mayor pro tem will only be ceremonial positions.
And fourth, if a councilmember turns out to perform very well as mayor, the mayor will or may be changed in only one year instead of two years.
City Council choosing mayor based on number of votes received
The proposal for the City Council members to select the mayor based on the number of votes each received may seem reasonable, but it too has flaws. Different elections have different voter turnouts. And the number of votes received depends on how many seats are up for election, how many candidates are running, how much money is spent on the campaign by each candidate, and by the police and firefighter unions who usually support candidates and ballot measures based on their own financial interests at the expense of the taxpayers.
In this last election, one candidate, Don Brann, started out recovering from a serious injury that hindered his walking door to door, which undoubtedly cost him many votes.
Also, a candidate can get elected with the most votes by getting mostly each voter’s third vote. This occurs when there are two opposing factions and a candidate is viewed as unsatisfactory to voters in each faction, but not as unsatisfactory as the candidates in the other faction.
Election Campaign Spending Data
FPPC campaign disclosure forms show the police and fire unions spent an overwhelming $39,247.50 in our city election ($19,033.50 police, and $20,214.00 fire) to influence voters on Measure B and the City Council race. See PublicSafetyProject.org.
The following sentence in the third disadvantage was accidentally omitted from the spoken public communications: “The mayor and mayor pro tem will only be ceremonial positions.”