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Blog: Monrovia's Incestuous City Council Relationship

It was an incestuous relationship born of a promise to "protect" the empty seat for their buddy, Councilmember Clarence Shaw, that led to a botched Monrovia municipal election.

Some of the fondest memories for me of living in the city of Monrovia are rooted in its people and their sense of civic pride and strong positive community values. 

My first job in Monrovia was as a newspaper boy working "crew" for the Monrovia Newspost.  I would come home from Mayflower Elementary School, eat, do my homework, and eagerly await the small flat-bed truck filled with the crew leader and other youths squeezed in the back.  Our purpose was to expand the readership by obtaining newspaper subscriptions.  The crew leader would designate an area and let two of us walk a neighborhood, one on each side of the block. 

I remember knocking on doors and being greeted by a friendly neighbor who may or may not subscribe but was always courteous.  Often they would tell me an encouraging story or offer to provide me with a drink of cold water.  I would return home feeling good about my efforts and with a few dollars in my pocket to share with my parents to help with family expenses.

While on crew, the people I met felt a duty to try to enhance my learning experience.  They treated me like one of their own children who they would want someone to one day take an interest in and be concerned about as their children sought to learn and grow into good productive citizens. 

These were undoubtedly law abiding people who would want a similar characteristic for individuals in elective office as a means for keeping the community safe and up-holding the civic pride and strong positive community values that they held so dear.  They expected their children to be treated fairly and they expected their elected officials to be fair stewards of the public trust.

The city of Monrovia is facing a crisis in leadership because most of our elected officials have only their own interests at heart and not those of the community.  This is evident in their inability to discuss the issue of replacing Councilman Clarence Shaw in a public meeting at the very beginning of his announced departure. 

Instead, the council decided in closed session or in a back room somewhere that they did not need to consult the community for its input on whether to fill the empty seat because each member would then have more power as an individual without another councilmember's vote to try to persuade to their side.  It was an incestuous relationship born of a promise to "protect" the empty seat for their buddy at all costs, even the financial well-being of the city.  At this time in our history, we need people in elective office who understand how to promote strong positive community values while maintaining the civic pride that is Monrovia.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bonnie Card January 20, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Well said!
punkster January 20, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Thank you!
Gayle M. Montgomery January 20, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Dr. Bagneris, we met briefly at a breakfast at the Community Center in January. You were speaking with Tom Adams. I was under the impression you were considering a run for a Council seat and looking forward to/expecting to see your name on the ballot. I was shocked to see that was not the case. We need more qualified candidates. Will you be running at some point?
Erin Thorn January 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM
So many things in your post that I like. Especially the part where you sold newspaper subscriptions door to door as a youth and learned valuable lessons in the process. That's no longer allowed in the city of Monrovia. Even students selling for their school or team are considered peddlers. You were greeted by friendly neighbors who were always courteous. Now people call the cops on innocent looking teenagers. What's happening to our community?
Bill C. January 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM
An old paperboy with the News Post like Jules. Only thing I would add is what happened isn't new to Monrovia or many other small town councils. Wasn't a third place vote getter passed over so Dan Kirby could be put on the council? Though I haven't lived in Monrovia for years I still have many friends there and grew up there. I also wonder about all the negative comments about Larry Spicer. Known him since jr high and never would I use the term "bully" to describe him. What Shaw did isn't anything others haven't done, though maybe to a lesser degree and can anyone here say Spicer wasn't left in the dark about Shaw's plans? It't not like he didn't lie to lots of people. Lastly, when Shaw's replacement was first being considered didn't Lutz or some council member toss Bob Bartlett's name out? Doubt Spicer's ever been accused of kidnapping yet Bartlett was so how consistent some council people are is certainly up for debate.
Dr. Jules S. Bagneris, III. January 21, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Thank you Bonnie! :-)
Dr. Jules S. Bagneris, III. January 21, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Thank you punkster! :-)
Dr. Jules S. Bagneris, III. January 21, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Gayle: It was a joy to have talked with you at the Community Center in January. As you may recall, I encouraged YOU to run for the Monrovia City Council. I understand your explanation for why that is not your desire and I respect your reasons for not running. I do think that I could offer my hometown of Monrovia the leadership it needs to move our city forward. I have benefited from the education provided to me within the Monrovia Unified School District and was able to use it as a foundation for being elected ASUCSD President and serving as a California State Senate Fellow in Sacramento. I also was a state Senate Consultant for the Health and Human Services and the Insurance, Claims, and Corporations committees. Each of these positions have enlightened my understanding of the governmental process and given me insight into how to best serve the needs of the people impacted by the decisions of government. I look forward to serving in some capacity in local government in the near future when I can count on the support of people who care about the quality of leadership in Monrovia and are willing to provide the human and financial resources needed to launch a successful campaign. Gayle, thanks for asking! :-)
Dr. Jules S. Bagneris, III. January 21, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Erin: As a former Los Angeles County Small Business Commissioner, I understand the importance of removing barriers to entry so that the free market can function effectively. Our schools are desperately in need of financial support and the ability to appeal to local neighbors is crucial to their fundraising efforts. I am confident that with proper leadership a way can be found to bring all the stakeholders together in support of allowing access to bonafide service organizations for this purpose. Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is "that good men do nothing." I am confident that there are plenty of good people in Monrovia ready to take our city back and are awakening to this possibility. Erin, thank you for making me aware of this situation. :-)
Dr. Jules S. Bagneris, III. January 21, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Bill C.: Small town councils are susceptible to manipulation by entrenched interests that feed off the public largess. It requires a constant balancing act to effectively meet the needs of the residents while being sensitive to the concerns of the many stakeholders and competing interests that make up a given community. This situation is the reason why electing people with a moral compass and a commitment to fairness to elective office is so very important. :-)
punkster January 21, 2013 at 01:38 AM
I agree Jules and when you become entrenched with the "power establishment" I think there is a tendency not to think outside that circle. You are very well educated and well spoken and please stay tuned in. We need many more like you. We also need truly principled people who remember right from wrong and follow the law to the letter!
Gayle M. Montgomery January 21, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Dr. Jules, let's stay in touch in the days ahead. We do need good leadership in town. Since we spoke, I spent a great deal of time working on the President's reelection, followed that up with TheAction, which worked to promote the President's position on the first aspect of the Fiscal Cliff, and am now signing on for Organizing for Action. I've championed the (re)election of several through time, both here in Monrovia and outside this community, and stay very politically active online. So, if when you get ready to run, let's see what it takes to pull an army of volunteers together to make that happen. My ties to the community go back to the 1970s initially and, save for a two-year lapse, I've lived here since 89. My children's father and his family have had roots in this town going back to the 30s and possibly more. We are invested in the outcome of Monrovia and its needs.
Robert Parry January 21, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Dr. Bagneris, I posted a blog with much of the same sentiments, which I assume will go live shortly. I'm struck by the fact that we both grew-up with community entrenchment. Strangely enough, we've both got newspaper roots, as well. Thanks for these important observations. I've been to places where tonce here had been no choice on the ballot. They're not very nice neighborhoods.
Gayle M. Montgomery January 21, 2013 at 08:44 AM
I had a very difficult conversation with my 16-year old grandson and "partner in crime" tonight. I encourage parents to try this at home and see how it makes you feel. I had to explain to him the election mess in Monrovia that basically declared apathy the winner. THAT was a tough one. Telling the Future that the Present did not learn from the Past and basically rolled over and slept an election. When we are trying to teach our young charges that citizenship is important, that voting is a right and a privilege, I encourage folks to think about what this lesson really meant. It was tough. We've had some meaty conversations about policies, the fiscal cliff, the wars, and more. But explaining that the citizens of Monrovia pretty much had a so what, who cares, attittude and did not apply to lead is just sort of mind blowing for this old Hippie spirit and for a young man a year plus from being able to vote. In some ways, I think we let our kids down.
Suzanne Leach January 21, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I've always described Monrovia to my family & friends who live out of state as "a small town in the middle of chaos" considering the busyness of the surrounding towns. Although I haven't been involved in the politics, I'm thinking that Monrovia is "a small town in the middle of a crisis"....What I'm reading, have been reading is that Monrovia's leadership no longer cares about our town, but only about themselves and slinging mud to make themselves look better. Well it's not working for anyone, so get it together "leaders" or we'll always be the small town in the middle of a crisis...I want our town to go back to being the small town wonder I fell in love with 15 yrs ago....
punkster January 21, 2013 at 05:18 PM
I totally agree...........Remember, Power corrupts...........Power Absolutely Corrupts. Term limits would be helpful too.........
Jill Pyeatt January 21, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I hope they re-open the filing period for more candidates for the city council's open seats. I'm sure some good people will step up and apply.
Erin Thorn January 21, 2013 at 09:02 PM
No one wants the job(s). Those who do are usually doing it for interests other than that of "the people." The may think they're wanting to serve the people but in the long run they seem to serve their own interests. We want small town. Their idea of small town now looks a lot like Old Town Pasadena, which looks a lot like LA. Nothing stays the same.
Dan Crandell January 25, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Thunder only happens when it's raining. Better way to say it is "Thunder only happens when someone brings brings the lighting" . Thank Dr. Begneris for bring it to last nights City Council Meeting. I save a seat for you at next the next meeting. Thank You.

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