Thursday, January 25, 2007

Family-Friendly La Verne

The La Verne city council recently approved a master plan for the University of La Verne (see the recent SGV Tribune article by Will Bigham and the Claremont Courier article by Landus Rigsby). The only initial complaints that I know of were limited to the "but-this-will-change-things" variety (see Len Ly's article in the University's campus newspaper).

All the information you could want about the plan itself is here.

Things got a little more interesting today as the SGV Tribune published this Alison Hewitt piece:

Councilman Steve Johnson voted to approve a University of La Verne expansion plan despite a warning from the city attorney that he might have a financial conflict of interest.

Johnson, whose insurance office is across the street from the campus, said he chose to ignore the city attorney's advice because his brother, an attorney and real estate appraiser, had concluded that no such conflict existed.

City officials and government experts have said that opinion may not be enough, and the vote last week might have been illegal.
It is unusual for a council member to ignore a city attorney's advice, said Doug Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College..."It's odd that he would expose himself to such a controversy."

Jon Blickenstaff has been the Mayor of La Verne for 25 years (taking the position over from his father-in-law). Mayor Blickenstaff's sister is a member of the university's board of trustees. She is Councilman Johnson's mother. Both Johnson and Blickenstaff will be automatically serve additional terms come March because no one volunteered to run against them. (You would know this if you read my old post on it.)

La Verne is a small town, and such snug relations are fairly common in small towns. Things might just look worse than they actually are in this case. Problem is, there may be other cases that we don't know about yet because no one is paying attention, and when no one pays attention, small town politics slowly but surely begin to degenerate.

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