I’ve done my share of ranting over the years about the cronyism once
rampant in the process that has the City Council naming appointees to
volunteer slots throughout city government. Some officials maintained a
tradition of recruiting exclusively from a tiny circle, pals relied upon
to curb their curiosity, thwart openness and studiously avoid all
With my credentials established as one opposed to city officials
picking crews of “yes men” and “yes women,” I confess that, upon learning
Joe Mandoky hopes to be reappointed to a seat he’s held through two
terms, my first reaction was, “He’s gotta be out of his freaking mind!”
For those who have perhaps just returned from a long stay on an
orbiting space station, Mandoky is the occasional council candidate and
occasional school board candidate who recently surrendered his
months-long effort to recall Mayor Gus Gomez. And in a not-so-minor point
apparently forgotten by many, Mandoky kicked off that effort saying he
also wanted three of Gomez’s council colleagues bounced: Rafi Manoukian,
Frank Quintero and Bob Yousefian. But, darn it all, state law protected
Quintero and Yousefian at the time because they hadn’t been in office
long enough to qualify for being fired via a recall. And so, ousting the
figurehead mayor was the goal Mandoky settled for.
Technically, the fifth council member had also long claimed to hold
exactly the opinion that, when advocated by the other four, prompted
Mandoky to go after them. But immediately after winning reelection, a win
thanks in some part to having claimed to hold that controversial opinion,
Councilman Dave Weaver granted Mandoky’s wish, and flip-flopped to the
Mandoky branded four of the council’s five members “unpatriotic.”
Because they endorsed lowering the flag to acknowledge the day of
remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, he charged them with showing a
lack of respect for dead soldiers and the American flag, and with
generally failing to demonstrate sufficient regard -- as defined by
Mandoky -- for America.
OK, so the recall failed. Now Mandoky thinks a council majority is
obliged to genuinely consider naming him to serve a third term in the
appointed seat he’d like to keep? Sheesh!
Sometimes I demand council members strive to meet certain ideals,
standards of conduct, ethics and objectivity that are all but impossible
to achieve in the real world. But I just can’t go so far that I’d scold a
council majority if one member puts a hand on Mandoky’s head to hold him
place while the other three punt his backside right over the goal posts
and out of the game.
Mandoky has had two two-year terms as a council representative,
serving as a trustee with the Los Angeles County Vector Control District.
It’s an obscure panel of 35 appointees to an agency you don’t want to
have to do business with directly, because its job is to assure we’re not
plagued, figuratively and literally, by pests running the gamut from rats
to bees to mosquitoes. The district tries to discourage anything that
might encourage vectors, and responds to complaints about infestations.
This is not one of the “sexy” council appointments. But the body’s work
is so important that, if the panel were to vanish, we’d soon regret it.
Maybe I don’t think council members should focus so much on picking
team players, too often a euphemism for sitting down, shutting up and
doing what you’re told to do -- this while pretending to be independent.
But I just can’t go so far as to say the council is obliged to pretend an
applicant for an appointment did not condemn them for having supposedly
disgraced the city, and deemed them unfit for office.
I’m also an advocate for preserving institutional memory, when doing
so doesn’t require overlooking a dismal performance record. So, I concede
Mandoky’s two terms of experience have value. But despite the Vector
Control District’s solemn responsibility, replacing Mandoky is not likely
to put the city’s interests at risk. For crying out loud, he called for
four of the council members to be fired, and took active steps toward
I tried to imagine an appointment Mandoky could hold in circumstances
that might make it irresponsible for the council to refuse him a third
term based only on his move to recall the mayor, and his scathing
allegations that other members are unpatriotic and acted shamefully. I
guess an airport commissioner could play a role so vital to an imminent
solution of long-running battles there that overlooking antics like
Mandoky’s might be warranted. But even that’s a stretch. And the city
doesn’t have a panel that is developing a cure for terminal illnesses, or
a renewable source of energy.
The period for people to apply for the Vector Control seat expires
Wednesday, and so far Mandoky is the only applicant. Perhaps the council
members will prove themselves to be much better men than I, and just
reappoint him if no else wants it. But if the officials are mere flesh
and blood like me, they’ll extend the application period if necessary,
hoping for another credible choice.
It would have been wrong for council members to punish Mandoky for his
activism by summarily firing him. But his term has expired, a natural
death, and he should accept that his actions have consequences. I find it
ludicrous that Mandoky asked a City Council majority to reappoint him.
Indeed, he should consider himself exceptionally lucky if they’re polite
when they say, “No.”