Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 6:34 am | Fair 53º


Ron Fink: The Good Old Boys of Lompoc Overlook Qualified Women in Council Appointment

A “good old boy” is defined as a person who belongs to a network of friends and associates with close ties of loyalty and mutual support; a good old boy network would be a group of these folks working in harmony.

In their last meeting of 2014, on Saturday, Dec. 20, three councilmen elected to serve the voters of Lompoc may have made a mistake by ignoring over 2,000 voters and creating the perception of good old boy cronyism while choosing a fifth council member to fill the unexpired term of the newly elected Mayor Bob Lingl.

Let’s review what happened.

After applicants made their case, the council took a vote and one applicant got three votes.

To set the stage for what many consider a questionable action, we need to know that every two years elected and appointed city “officials” are required to complete ethics training by state law; elected and appointed commissioners in Lompoc were required to complete this training by Dec. 13.

One of the key points repeated throughout this training is that while some actions may not be illegal, they could have the perception of wrongdoing and should be avoided. At least two of the council members seemed to forget that warning.

One councilman, newly elected, created the perception of impropriety by nominating a man from whom he leases commercial property and who has a direct impact on his livelihood for the empty council seat. The nomination was seconded by another councilman who is a close family friend of the man who was nominated.

All three deciding votes came from men with deep roots in the community. Two were born and raised in Lompoc; one is from an earlier generation and the two who nominated the winner went to school with him. When you look closely, this appears to be the definition of a good old boy network.

While there may be nothing illegal with these actions, they certainly don’t pass the smell test.

These same two councilmen overlooked equally qualified women, one of whom had garnered third place with over 2,000 votes in the recent election and another who is chairwoman of the Economic Development Committee and instead chose their buddy — thus for the first time in over two decades there won’t be a woman on the dais.

In this case, the good old boys seemed to have forgotten that women comprise half of the electorate and that women provide an important balance when making important decisions that impact our daily lives.

Only Mayor Bob Lingl seemed to get it; during the first discussion of this issue on Dec. 2, he nominated the woman who placed third — he lost on a 2-2 vote with the two who nominated their pal on Dec. 20 dissenting. And during the rare Saturday session, it was Lingl who supported another qualified woman to fill the seat, and once again it was the same two who were opposed to seating her.

The person they selected is Jim Mosby. He is known locally for his efforts to operate a private recreation facility in the county. It was during county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hearings involving this property that questions were raised concerning statements made by former Mayor John Linn implying that the council supported the project when in fact they had never discussed it.

Once again, the actions of the former mayor were not deemed to be illegal, but his outright misrepresentation of a council action that never took place raised ethical concerns with the voters.

Mosby, who currently serves on the county parks commission, has a lawsuit pending against the county concerning its denial of a permit to operate the same recreation facility that was initially built without the approval of the county.

To his credit, Mosby has attended all but a couple of council meetings for the last four years, remaining there long into the night. This is something that very few people would have the patience for. He has also served on the utilities commission for the last couple of years and has raised some serious issues concerning how the utilities are operated. So, he should be well informed.

Will he make a good council member? Only time will tell. One thing is certain: His appointment has created controversy considering his close relationship with the two council members who nominated him and subsequently put him in office.

Well, now that four good old boys have been seated on the council dais what’s going to happen? It could be either good news or bad news for the community as they ponder the coming budget, the revision of the zoning ordinance and annexation issues.

I am willing to give these guys a chance; after all we can’t “un-ring the bell.” While there may be folks in the community who will try various challenges to this decision, I doubt their efforts will be anything more than background noise.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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