Though relieved Measure E passed, balanced the city’s budget and assured a future for the city’s police department, the Palos Verdes Estates City Council last week was faced with residents who leveled such allegations as bullying and publicly chiding an elected official for speaking out against the measure.
Voters passed the parcel tax with 69 percent of the vote; it needed 66 percent. It is expected to raise $5 million per year.
A parcel tax to fund the city’s safety services had been on the books in some form for over 30 years, but voters refused to renew the tax 2017. What followed was a second attempt — Measure E — with simplified language and a more specific funding target: the city’s independent police force. Factions formed among residents: those who wanted their police department at any cost and those who thought a local police department was too pricey.
Voter turnout was the largest in the city’s history, but at last week’s reorganization proceedings, council members acknowledged that post-election hard feelings endured in the community.
“I think (former mayor Jim Vandever) probably led the city through the most difficult and divisive periods as I can recall … I can’t remember a period in time when the city has felt so divided,” Councilman Kenneth Kao said after Betty Lin Peterson was named mayor, replacing Vandever.
The day before the election, Councilmember Sandy Davidson criticized City Treasurer Victoria Lozzi at a council meeting. She spoke out against the measure at a public forum.
“It was an unfortunate display of disrespect, to see Councilmember Davidson launch such an aggressive personal attack on another PVE elected official,” resident John Harbison said. “I have never seen any city official go after another city official like that in public before. Arguments should be attacked, people should not be … Just as reprehensible was that the other four council members remained silent throughout, with the exception of the mayor, whose comments did not try to reign in councilmember Davidson’s diatribes.”
Several residents encouraged the council to embrace disagreement with open discussion, whether on social media or in person.
“It’s been very disappointing to hear Davidson use his position and bench to threaten and bully others,” resident Desiree Myers said.
In response to the speakers, Councilman Sandy Davidson compared the election process to competitive sports.
“Playing sports is like a mini-conflict,” Davidson said. “But at the end of every mini-conflict, there were always people you played against who were sore losers and there were other people who would come up and shake your hand and say, ‘You really worked hard at accomplishing your goal and let me shake your hand.’ What we’re seeing tonight is a bunch of sore losers.”
Mayor Peterson interrupted the councilman and encouraged working together.
” I want to move past our election, so I know some people voted yes and some people didn’t, and we have our PD so we’re thankful for that and lets just move forward.”