City Tenant Charges Favoritism : Recall Petition Aimed at 4 Bellflower Officials
A businesswoman who says she is “mad as hell” has begun recall proceedings against four Bellflower city councilmen who she alleges have shown favoritism in dealing with a relative of one of the councilmen.
Intent-to-recall petitions have been served on Mayor James Earle Christo and councilmen Joseph Cvetko, M. G. (Mike) Brassard and John Ansdell.
The businesswoman, Bonnie Dummar, has accused the four officials of giving preferential treatment to Ansdell’s son, Garry Ansdell, in the rental of space in the former City Hall.
Dummar has rented space in the building for years, she said. Her recall effort grew out of an attempt to rent additional room for her telephone-answering business.
The recall notices also allege that the four acted improperly by voting for a resolution allowing Hosanna Chapel, of which Garry Ansdell is pastor, to buy the city-owned Holiday Theater building.
The church paid $175,000 for the downtown property last August. Dummar also charged that the U.S. Constitution was violated when the city allowed the church to conduct services in the city’s auditorium.
All the council members have denied any impropriety.
Councilman Ansdell emphatically denied the charge of favoritism. “I excused myself on votes involving the church,” Ansdell said.
Christo called the constitutional issue “far-fetched” and noted that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, not the council, issues permits to users of the auditorium.
Dummar said she was especially angry that the city had rented space in the old City Hall to Garry Ansdell but stalled a similar request from her.
“I was told by the city manager to make a formal request to the council because it had to vote on it. Then I found the church renting the space, and as far as I know, there was no vote taken (on the church rental),” Dummar said in an interview.
Garry Ansdell said he had received approval to rent space for a day-care center in the building from City Manager Jack Simpson. “I asked the city administrator to lease it on a day-to-day basis. He said he saw no problem,” Garry Ansdell said.
Simpson was out of town and not available for comment.
According to a city memorandum dated May 28 and researched by the city administrative staff at Councilman Ray O’Neal’s request, the church rented the facility from March 24 through May 19 for two days a week.
Dummar said she asked the council on March 11 for the additional space she wanted. She said O’Neal, the only councilman not named in her recall petition, agreed to let her rent the space, but the others voted to “take it under advisement.”
Conditions on Approval
The council voted 3 to 1 on April 22 to consider Dummar’s rental request on the condition that she undergo a credit check, make a substantial security deposit and pay increased rent equivalent to rates in the area, according to council records.
Brassard, Christo and Cvetko cast favorable votes, O’Neal voted against the motion and John Ansdell abstained.
Dummar has rented space at 9826 Belmont St., the old City Hall building, for more than 12 years, she said. She said she wanted additional space to expand her Bell Edison General Business Service.
The one-story, 7,500-square-foot building was left vacant except for two tenants--Dummar’s telephone-answering service and the Cherokee Cafe--when the new City Hall was opened in January, 1983.
Christo said the city is trying to develop the old City Hall property as a senior citizens housing project. He said the city is negotiating with two developers.
Dummar has until Tuesday to file a formal recall petition with the city clerk. The four officials must offer rebuttal within seven days of her petition being filed. Dummar would have to have the petition signed by 20% of the city’s registered voters--about 4,500 signatures--within 120 days to force a recall election.
Bellflower has a regular municipal election scheduled for April. Ansdell, Christo and O’Neal are up for re-election.