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Will Rogers

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

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to curb their curiosity, thwart openness and studiously avoid all

independent thought.

With my credentials established as one opposed to city officials

picking crews of “yes men” and “yes women,” I confess that, upon learning

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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,

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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,

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Councilman Dave Weaver granted Mandoky’s wish, and flip-flopped to the

opposite view.

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

that end!

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.”


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