Just when we were starting to relax from a hard-fought city council election, here comes the rumor swirling through town that current Mayor Larry Lavagnino will resign, allowing Alice Patino to be appointed as mayor and currently unelected Marty Mariscal to be re-appointed to the council.
Whispers say this will all be accomplished before recently elected Hilda Zacarias has been sworn in to the council on Tuesday, December 19th -- and votes no on the issue.
Wow. Thank goodness Deborah Brasket took the council to task in her November 24th, 2006, commentary in the Santa Maria Times -- Stop the Rumors, Change the Charter.
Brasket cites what happened in 2002, when then Mayor Joe Centeno was elected supervisor. Even though a general election was scheduled for the following November, allowing plenty of time for the citizens to elect their own mayor, Supervisor Joe Centeno refused to step down from his position as mayor.
Centeno held on to the position until December 2002. He thus created a vacancy in the mayor's position after the November election, which then allowed the sitting city council to appoint a mayor of its own choosing - rather than one elected by the citizens the mayor would be serving.
Brasket points out that what was done by Supervisor Joe Centeno was "perfectly legal", but it was also "perfectly odious".
Brasket believes that the only way to keep this "culture of corruption" from happening again is to change the city charter.
The commentary ends with, "I hope that when Hilda Zacarias takes her seat on the city council that we will have a chance to revisit the City Charter and make the changes that will keep these kinds of rumors from every flying again."