Larry Wilson: South Pasadena will pack council chambers for Chief Watson
South Pasadenans are keeping up the pressure on their City Council to reverse the ill-conceived, purely political putsch of police Chief Dan Watson.
Last week and this coming week as well, hundreds of them have signed a full-page ad in the local weekly, the Review, urging the council to reverse the decision to force the popular chief out.
The members of the council know he's done an excellent job, turning around a department formerly beset by numerous problems. With eight years of service, he's one of few longtime department heads in the city. Yet four out of five council members, the only principled exception being current Mayor Richard Schneider, were behind the wink-and-a-nod direction to Watson's actual boss, City Manager John Davidson, to throw out Watson. Or, rather, to "invite him to reapply for his job." Word from a number of locals is some council members have another candidate for chief, a former local officer himself. The latter wanted to run for council but was convinced to drop out and wait for an opportunity to lead the department. A few in the officers' union like that prospect, hoping for a new push for higher pay and unsustainable pensions.
Davidson serves at the pleasure of the council and is in a tough spot on this one.
If it wasn't just a wink and a nod that gave the direction to Davidson, then the council has violated California's Brown Act. Otherwise it would have had to report out its closed-session vote to direct Davidson to dump the chief. Here's Section 54957.1. of the open-records act: "(a) The legislative body of any local agency shall publicly report any action taken in closed session and the vote or abstention on that action of every member present ... Action taken to appoint, employ, dismiss, accept the resignation of, or otherwise affect the employment status of a public employee in closed session pursuant to Section 54957 shall be reported at the public meeting during which the closed session is held."
Look for dozens of South Pasadenans to turn out at Wednesday's council meeting to give the electeds a chance to undo their bad work.