By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Now, late attendance as a governance problem dates to the Bronze Age. So it‘s something of which other L.A. council presidents have been tolerant. John Ferraro usually waited until well past 10:30 before adjourning for want of a quorum, and his predecessor, Pat Russell, was similarly indulgent, yet not above sending the council sergeants at arms out to nab malingerers in their offices. There’s a legend of primordial council presidents who sent police to the homes of absent councilmen (as they all then were) to drag them downtown, but I haven‘t been able to nail down the specifics.
It may be that young Padilla was right to do what he did, in the scoutmasterly sense of “right.” As he noted, ordinary citizens usually have to arrange working time off and spend hours driving downtown to get to City Hall meetings. They’re usually there at 10 sharp, when things are supposed to begin. And if the members aren‘t, well, one can see how the visitors might be peeved.
On the other hand, as the Times pointed out this week, if Wendy Greuel were to win next month’s 2nd District council-seat runoff, Padilla could be holding on to his presidency by a single vote (if an ouster were attempted, he can only be certain of eight votes that remain of the nine who elected him last summer). Which means that it‘s a bad time for Padilla to be pissing the council off.
Beyond the issue of political pragmatism, however, there’s the eternal fact of how things are done at City Hall. Most council business is not conducted on the legislative floor. So it‘s one thing for you to Always Be Prompt to meetings. It’s quite another thing if, to do so, you have to kick Bernie Parks out of your office while he‘s trying to explain the LAPD policies in your district.
I’m not sure how much Padilla appreciates this. But when you are young, in authority and full of outward confidence, yet inexperienced in the management of tough situations, it is wise to err on the side of caution. Otherwise, cracking the whip just to show who‘s boss can have the opposite effect. That’s why, at places like West Point, they teach you never to give an order that you don‘t expect to be obeyed.
In any case, I don’t think Padilla‘s shutting down that meeting made anyone more disposed to do his bidding. Had he waited another minute or two, he’d have had his quorum -- Councilwoman Ruth Galanter said she was just entering the chamber, “when I ran into everyone going out.” (The Times says two other members made the same claim, but I didn‘t see them.) All that resulted, in the end, was that a large Wednesday agenda got held over to make for an extremely confused and busy Friday. And, perhaps, a lingering shadow was left on Padilla’s leadership.
Oh, and what about all those punctual citizen attendees who got time off from their bosses to be at the October 31 council meeting? Let‘s just hope their employers were kind enough to give them some more hours off, later in the week.