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Council: Integrity or cronyism?

Posted: July 13, 2008 1:08 a.m.
Updated: September 13, 2008 5:02 a.m.
The Santa Clarita City Council sees itself as a collection of honorable individuals who share a responsibility and commitment to make this city the best it can be.

We believe they're right.

We believe in the good intentions and integrity of each council member.

Some in this valley would call us naïve and say, "Prove it."

Of course, we can't prove it. Only council members can do that, mostly through their actions.

Some of those actions in Council Chambers last week did not inspire faith in two council members' professionalism or integrity.

On Tuesday, the council selected eight citizens to fill expiring seats on two important commissions and one audit panel.

Councilman Frank Ferry, who is the principal at Bishop Alemany High School, chose his secretary of six years, Janell Cornell, as his top pick for a city of Santa Clarita parks commission seat.

Ferry said Cornell was one of several applicants he knows personally. He said one applicant is his neighbor. And his son is best friends with applicant Matthew Halliday's son, he said.

Seconds later, Councilwoman Laurie Ender named Halliday as her choice for the parks commission.
"His son is my son's best friend, Frank. So there," she said.

So there, indeed.

We would like to think - and we suspect others in this city would like to think - that a longstanding relationship with a council member is not what gets a person a seat on the critical Planning Commission or Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission.

But the childish show of insider-ism and one-upsmanship seen Tuesday night in Council Chambers smacks of small-town cronyism, legitimizing scrutiny and criticism of the City Council.

After such a display, council members can hardly be surprised when constituents question their honor.
It's the voting public's right and responsibility to make sure we have trustworthy elected officials leading the most local, and thus most precious, level of government.

That trust is not a given; it must be earned.


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