In what should be classified as nothing more than an embarrassment to the City of Oakley, the council reversed its decision to pass on Randy Pope for vice mayor after Carol Rios resigned from the position on Tuesday night.
This overturned a 3-2 decision last month to place Carol Rios as vice mayor. This caused Randy Pope to protest where he asked the council for a reconsideration of appointments. After some discussion, Rios ultimately resigned as vice mayor while Pope was approved unanimously as vice mayor. Kevin Romick will remain as mayor.
In what I will call her “resignation speech”, Rios explained that she wanted to make it “easier on the council” with their decision for vice mayor and then resigned. She hinted at Popes past behavior but failed to provide hard examples but rather generalizations as she explained that a vice mayor requires much time and dedication, building working relationships, conduct must be worthy of the position, Brown Act and closed session discussions must not be violated while rules must be followed.
Rios is right; Pope hasn’t conducted himself in a manor Oakley should be proud of. If people were paying attention, they would have challenged Popes record versus a simple rotation. Ultimately, if the argument of comparing records was the real discussion over “everyone should get a turn”, people would have been okay with the original appointments which are “at the will of the council”.
While her resignation speech was clearly aimed at Pope, it was meant to ensure he rises to the occasion as he takes his shot at a leadership post—somewhat motivational in an odd way. I can live with the comments because he needs to hear it and change his attitude. With the Rios resignation, one can’t blame Romick or Burgis for flipping their votes.
Ultimately, Romick, Rios and Diane Burgis were being polite for the sake of the city by not calling out Popes past behaviors and embarrassing him. Good for them, but it isn’t about being polite, it’s about the best person for the job and at this time, that didn’t occur and we can thank Doug Hardcastle for that.
Hardcastle took control of the discussion and took a 3-2 vote against Pope turned into a 5-0 vote for Pope. I am not going to knock Hardcastle for a simple disagreement in philosophy here, it really is just a difference of opinion on how a mayor and vice mayor is selected— earned appointment vs. rotation and its fine to disagree.
When it came to the council discussion, Hardcastle was simply more prepared than anyone else and it showed as he controlled the rhetoric.
While Pope touted his “my turn” argument, Hardcastle used real situations, past discussions and resolutions while challenging Romick and Rios to defend their 2008 position. To be perfectly honest, Hardcastle was magnificent in crafting the debate and winning over opposing councilmembers.
He asked Romick and Rios, “Did you ignore it? And “Did you forget about it?” He challenged them to explain what had changed. Neither Romick nor Rios had an answer. Pope owes Hardcastle a steak dinner or a Black Bear Diner breakfast for his efforts.
Prior to the evening, I highly doubt Rios had any intention of resigning. At one point, it even appeared like it was going to remain a 3-2 vote to keep the appointments as is, however, kudos to Doug Hardcastle for making the argument that Pope could never seem to make.
While I don’t have to agree with Hardcastle on the “everyone should get a turn” belief, he crafted the message beautifully so my hats off to him for that.
In contrast to Hardcastles belief of everyone should get a turn, councilwoman Diane Burgis stated she thought the mayors and vice mayor roles should be earned after being confronted and chastised by Angela Lowry for her original explanation to nominate Carol Rios. Lowry claimed the council insulted Pope by passing on him.
“Being mayor and vice mayor is something you earn,” said Burgis. “We are a young city and sometimes those deviations occur. Anything we have in our lifetime is not guaranteed. When I nominated Carol… it was because of respect and confidence to develop the council and I felt she was the best for the position. I would not want to serve as mayor or vice mayor if I don’t have a majority vote or confidence of the council. The policy we have now works.”
I and many others agree with Burgis while the same is true for those who believe in a true rotation.
It’s actually not the end of the world because over time, these things work themselves out in a positive or a negative way—that is up to the appointed person to decide if they want to be effective or not by putting in the time and effort.
Ultimately, this debate can be summed up as two different ways of selecting a mayor and vice mayor and it’s all about perspective—a rotation vs. earned appointment. Neither is right, neither is wrong.
The battle was fought last night, the council made the decision and my opinion lost. It was a good battle and while I may not like the outcome, I can respect the arguments made by Pope, Hardcastles and members of the public.
Now is the time to move on and consider what should be accomplished in Oakley. To find what we don’t like and work towards fixing. To ensure economic development occurs while creating an Oakley a majority of the people deserve.
Pope wanted the vice mayor position, fine, now it’s time for him to step up and lead like he says he wants to do. It’s time for him to truly put some skin in the game and accomplish something rather than just talk about it.
His record as a councilman speaks for itself and you already know how I feel. However, as vice mayor his record is now clean and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt going forward as Oakley does not need any more black eyes. A year from now, Oakley will have a record of Popes leadership ability like we do his councilperson record.
For Oakley’s sake, let’s hope Randy Pope does not let us down. For now, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the wild ride we are about to observe.
Romick is the Winner
While Rios was the sacrificial lamb last night, Kevin Romick came out unscathed because he failed to defend his original vote while offered little to the defense of his vote. Instead, he simply let others duke it out while he remained mayor. It’s time for the mayor to put on his “big boy pants” and start inserting himself into the dialogue instead of sitting back waiting to see where the conversation goes.
If I am going to be truly objective here about the rotation discussion, I found it odd that all this talk about a “true rotation” and the mayor remained untouched for whatever reason.
What Romick should have done was offer Rios one more chance at the Mayors seat. Since there was no policy in place requiring a vice mayor for a year at that time, Pope should have technically been offered Mayor while Hardcastle as the highest vote getter in the last election should be moved into the vice mayor role—Burgis moved up to three in seniority and Romick to four with Rios bringing up the rear.
This may need to be revisited at the next meeting for clarification as Pope should now be technically in the Mayor seat.
Thoughts on Rios Resignation
If Rios was going to resign, she should have done it at the very start of the agenda item and save a bunch of time and effort. In the end, she gave up rather than defend herself.
With Rios resignation as vice mayor, she should now be considered a lame duck councilperson since she will not seek re-election. This is also the second time she has retreated from an original decision without giving much explanation—City Manager Deal now a Vice Mayor Vote. She apparently crumbles under pressure.
Since she gave up, I would encourage Ms. Rios to further give up some of her committee assignments so that Burgis, Hardcastle and Pope can take on a more active role while working to push the city forward. It will make the council as a whole stronger and better.
She stated her family should come first and I accept that, but it can’t be at Oakley’s expense so the logical thing is to allow others to further develop themselves.
Elected Mayor in Oakley’s Future?
While this “next in line” discussion was a mixture of fun and silly, it’s ultimately just noise. At some point, Oakley is going to grow up get serious about moving towards an elected mayor for a four-year term and real compensation.
The beauty of a four-year term is this sets up the mayor’s position to actually accomplish something because 1-year is tough to make things happen. Under the current rotation, what typically begins under one mayor may not finish until one or two additional mayors take office.
The biggie is the public would take the mayor appointment out of the council’s hand and put it back in the voters hands.
Rios Gives up Vice Mayor Role