Conflict Delays Selection of New LAFCO Head : Government: County commission debates next action after two of three candidates are disqualified.


The county commission that rules on cityhood applications delayed choosing a new executive officer Wednesday after two of the three candidates were disqualified for being connected to the selection process.

The commission met privately Wednesday to debate what course to take now.

“We went over the legal opinions and our options and will hopefully be ready to make a decision on Friday,” said Thomas E. Jackson, chairman of the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission.

Earlier this week, the county counsel’s office issued a non-binding opinion that said the commission should not consider LAFCO member Gary H. Werner or alternate commission member Larry J. Calemine for the vacant executive officer slot because they had served on the commission during the application process.


The commission has three options: It can decide to ignore the county counsel’s opinion and pick Werner or Calemine; it can pick a third candidate; or it can choose to begin the process all over again.

On Wednesday, Calemine’s attorney, former City Atty. Burt Pines, told the commission that the county counsel’s opinion was surprising because a 1993 opinion by the same office suggested that such a move would present no conflict-of-interest problems.

“This comes as quite a surprise,” Pines said. “My client acted in good faith, so in all fairness, this matter should be rectified. I would ask on your behalf that you start from scratch . . . and allow [Calemine] to be considered like everyone else.”

The commission had requested an opinion from the county counsel last month, but did not receive the opinion until late Tuesday, leaving commission members insufficient time to make a decision, Jackson said.

The county counsel’s office did not return phone calls Wednesday.

In order to comply with the county attorney’s opinion, both Werner and Calemine have resigned from the commission within the past several days.

Calemine is a West Hills development consultant who has said he would not necessarily abandon his outside development work if he wins the executive officer job.


Werner, also a development consultant, is mayor pro tem of Diamond Bar. Werner said he would give up his outside consulting work if he wins the position.

The third candidate is Stan Eisner, who heads Ventura County’s LAFCO.

The executive officer of the county LAFCO runs the day-to-day operations of the commission, and can earn about $75,000 each year. The job has been vacant since last month when James J. Colangelo resigned to take a position in Northern California.

The commission processes applications from unincorporated areas to become cities and from cities to expand their boundaries, approves cityhood elections and oversees creation of special districts.