4 Bellflower Officials Face Recall; Favoritism Alleged
A city councilman has been accused of betrayal by his four colleagues for supporting a recall campaign against them that alleges they showed favoritism in dealings with the son of one of the four councilmen.
Ray O’Neal, the lone councilman not named in intent-to-recall petitions last month, has been accused by fellow council members of turning his back on them after they supported him in the 1982 election and did not endorse a recall against him in 1983. “He has put an ax in my back. I didn’t do this to him when there was a recall against him,” said Mayor James Earle Christo.
Intent-to-recall petitions were filed May 28 against Christo and councilmen Joseph Cvetko, M. G. (Mike) Brassard and John Ansdell by supporters of businesswoman Bonnie Dummar.
The petitions accuse the four officials of discriminating against Dummar and giving preferential treatment to Ansdell’s son, Garry, in the rental of space in the former City Hall.
Filled Out Incorrectly
City Clerk Deborah Harrington rejected the petitions June 21 because they had not been filled out correctly. Dummar said Thursday that she had redrawn them and her supporters would refile them by Monday.
“These are minor details. No way am I going to back off. Nothing is going to stop me,” said Dummar Thursday. She was given up to 10 days to return the petitions.
O’Neal said in an interview that he supports Dummar’s efforts to recall the four councilmen.
“I think she has a good cause,” said O’Neal, who was elected to the council in April, 1982, along with Christo and John Ansdell.
“When you look at everything, you have to ask if the council really did deal fairly with the lady. I think she is right,” said O’Neal.
Dummar’s recall effort grew out of an attempt to rent additional room in the former City Hall for her telephone-answering business.
She said she had been told by City Manager Jack Simpson that she had to make a formal request to the council because it had to vote on such requests. However, she said, she discovered that the Hosanna Chapel, of which Garry Ansdell is pastor, rented space without a vote.
Dummar said she is angry that the city had rented space to Garry Ansdell but stalled the request from her. She said she had first inquired at City Hall in early February about renting additional space and was told that she had to make the request to the council.
She said she asked the council March 11 for the additional space, but O’Neal was the only councilman to approve it. The others told her they would take her request under advisement, she said.
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 Councilman Ansdell abstained.
Garry Ansdell said he was told by Simpson he could rent space on a day-to-day basis for a day-care center in the building. The church rented space from March 24 to May 19.
Dummar said she would have been interested in renting on a day-to-day basis but was never told that it was possible.
It was the city staff’s decision to rent to the church with the understanding that the property would be vacated immediately when the city needed it, Christo said. This was done because the city is negotiating with developer Peter Wall of Newport Beach to turn the old City Hall into senior citizens’ housing, Christo said.
Dummar said she has rented space at 9826 Belmont St., the old City Hall building, for more than 12 years. She said she wanted the 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.
In addition to the rental issue, the recall petitions also charge nepotism on the part of the four council members for approving a resolution allowing the younger Ansdell’s Hosanna Chapel to buy the city-owned Holiday Theater building.
The church paid $175,000 for the downtown property last August. The petitions also charge that the council permitted “mixing church with state” when the city allowed the church to conduct services in the city’s auditorium.
The four council members have denied any impropriety.
Councilman Ansdell has denied the charge of favoritism. He said he has always excused himself on votes involving the church.
“I don’t mind him (O’Neal) picking on me. But it’s wrong for him to pick on my son. He hasn’t done anything wrong,” Councilman Ansdell said.
Ansdell and the other councilmen said they believe O’Neal has formed an alliance with Dummar to work on recalling them.
Both Dummar and O’Neal deny it.
“I’m encouraged by his support but in no way am I in partnership with him,” Dummar said.
Dummar, however, did not sign the petitions; they are signed by residents Stanley P. Massey and Waldemar T. Ahlgren, who described themselves in interviews Thursday as staunch Dummar supporters.
“I’m the mouth behind all of this,” said Dummar on Thursday, explaining why she did not sign the documents. “People have been wanting to challenge them for a long time.”
Dummar said she paid for typing and any other petition-related costs.
To force a recall, the petitions must be signed within 120 days by 20% of the city’s 25,336 registered voters.
Bellflower has a regular municipal election scheduled for April. Ansdell, Christo and O’Neal are up for reelection.