Upland Mayor Threatens To Eject Former Colleague From Council Chambers

Upland Mayor Debbie Stone threatened to have one her former council colleagues arrested Monday night when he sought to have the city council consider giving some level of recognition to the city’s recently departed finance manager.
Stone had served on the city council since she was selected by the city’s voters to replace Ray Musser during a special election in August 2011 when Musser was elevated to mayor following the resignation of Musser’s predecessor, John Pomierski. In 2012, Glenn Bozar was elected to the council in an election that also saw Stone and councilman Gino Filippi, who was first elected to the council in 2010, challenge Musser for the mayoralty. Musser prevailed in that contest. In 2014, Stone was reelected to the council. Last year, Musser opted out of running and Bozar and Stone competed to assume the gavel from Musser. In making that run, Bozar risked his position on the council, as the council term to which he had been elected in 2012 concluded in 2016. His gamble failed, as Debbie Stone, who did not have to risk losing her council berth to run for mayor, beat him, 56.82 percent to 43.18 percent.
This week, Bozar returned to the council chambers to attend the council meeting, which lasted 3 hours 2 minutes and 14 seconds. Relatively early in the meeting, after the opening festivities and recognitions, Bozar came forward, no longer as an elected official but as a city resident, during the meeting’s first public comment period, during which each speaker is alotted three minutes to address the council on any item or items on that evening’s agenda. Bozar weighed in on the city’s ongoing proposal for the dissolution of the municipal fire department and annexation of the entire city into a county fire protection district, the imposition of an assessment on properties to support that district and the county fire department’s takeover of the city’s existing fire stations, from which it will offer fire suppression and emergency medical response service. An item relating to the matter was scheduled for the council’s consideration later that evening.
As a member of the council, Bozar had supported exploring the outsourcing of the fire service, but wanted the city to proceed only if an evaluation of the financial impact confirmed savings could be achieved and that a changeover would not be used as a means of increasing taxes. On Monday night he vouchsafed his assertion that the creation of an assessment district ran counter to his intent and was mere bureaucratic sleight of hand to impose higher taxes.
At 39 minutes and 35 seconds into the meeting, Bozar began his comments, which by city policy, are to be constrained to three minutes speaking time, “Good evening,” Bozar began. “When I was on the council, I voted to allow the interim city manager to negotiate with the county. Now I see what is going on is absolutely not in the best interest of the city for a number of reasons. First of all, there was never done a Cal Fire proposal. There was one in 2012 where they showed Cal Fire would save approximately $1.9 million. There was no annexation involved. There was no assessment involved. It was a straight contract. The city maintained control. They didn’t give up control. That’s the problem with what’s going on here. So I would not do it at all. Mr. Thouvennell once said Station Three, up at San Antonio and 21st, actually is redundant and really isn’t needed. That’s up by me. I would agree.”
Bozar continued, “The other thing that isn’t talked about is we do spend a lot of money on fire, but that’s because we do not have a priority call system, where the calls are screened and fire is often waived off because it is not a true medical emergency. I want to thank the police department for their post on Nextdoor [nextdoor.com] about the true use of 911. That should be posted on every city website and every department. That’s really a lot of waste and a lot of time.”
Bozar, who had been the chairman of the city’s finance committee, addressed the city’s fiscal state.
“In talking about the budget, a lot of statements have been made about this-and-that costs, and one of the kind-of convoluted assertions is about streets,” Bozar said. “We have, according to our annual budget we adopted when I was on there, over $12 million in gas tax and Measure I funds. It’s actually more than that. That’s street repair money we should be using. We’re not allocating it all, not all of it. That’s a problem. The other thing is we gave the fire department an increase of $245,000 in overtime. That brings their overtime back up to $1.2 million, which is what they did the year before. That is not needed, but that’s politically what happens when we don’t want to manage. When we look at the past overtimes in the budget, it was way under a million dollars, so the city comes down to better management and I don’t think we’re getting it.”
His three minutes of speaking time having nearly elapsed, Bozar began to move away from the speaker’s podium. As he did so, at 42 minutes and 37 seconds into the meeting, city manager Martin Thouvenell addressed him, asserting that the city had sought out a bid from CalFire, which is the acronym for the California Department of Forestry’s fire protection division. That exchange with Thouvenell lasted 39 seconds, until the 43 minute and 13 second point of the meeting.
Under Upland’s meeting protocol, a second public comment period is reserved for the end of the meeting, during which members of the public are allowed to address the council once more, this time on items not on the agenda, again for a maximum of three minutes.
Thus two hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds into the meeting, Bozar came to the podium once more to address the council.
“I would just like to recognize Scott Williams, our former finance manager, for all the work he did with the city for the city,” Bozar began. He made it no further than that when Stone stopped him short.
“That was already on the agenda,” Stone said. “You should have talked about that at the first oral communication. You’re talking about the budget and the budget was already discussed. Am I not correct, Mr. city manager? Mr. city attorney?
Puzzled, Bozar asked “Why?”
At that point, the city’s newly hired city attorney, James Markman, caught somewhat off guard by the mayor’s move, leapt into the breach, scrambling to back her up.
“The mayor is pointing out that this part of the agenda, after it’s all over is,” Markman said, pausing to find some appropriate wording, “is your recognizing somebody who – I wasn’t here – but who was, I presume, part of some budget action.”
“He was, yes,” said Stone.
“It wasn’t on the agenda,” Bozar responded.
“Mr. Bozar, the budget was, so I’m sorry, you won’t be able to able to acknowledge him,” Stone shot back.
“I just want to recognize Scott Williams,” Bozar said.
“If you cannot deal with this, I’ll have to ask the chief to have you escorted out, and I will,” Stone threatened.
Stunned speechless, Bozar stood silent at the podium. Resignedly, he waved at the council, and two hours, 53 minutes and 47 seconds into the meeting, turned away.
“We’re trying to be fair to everyone,” Stone said.

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