Upland Mayor And Council Snub Colleague Elliott On Adjunct Appointments

Upland Mayor Debbie Stone and three of her colleagues snubbed councilwoman Janice Elliott this week, refusing, with a single exception, to appoint her to any of the boards, commissions, and committees that are typically a secondary or tertiary element or adjunct to city officials’ public service.
Cities typically have commissions and committees within their structure and participate in regional collectives or joint powers authorities. While the functions of these boards, commissions, committees and outside authorities are intended to augment and enhance the authority and reach of each city, an elected official can see his or her own political authority and reach increased by participating in these adjunct governmental entities. In the context of that participation, the members come into contact with other elected officials, politicians and respected and knowledgeable government employees as well as successful business owners. Such interaction can provide the participant with a springboard to higher office, and it can lead to support, financial and otherwise, being given to the official’s efforts to remain in the office that official currently holds, to say nothing of information and prestige that comes with taking part in the adjunct’s activities.
In 2016, Elliott vied for the one council position up for grabs in the November election, while the incumbent in that position, Glenn Bozar sought to move up into the mayor’s post, running against councilwoman Debbie Stone, who yet had two years remaining on her council term after having last been reelected in 2014. In the early returns, Elliott lagged behind another candidate in the race, Sid Robinson, who was considered a mainstay within the Upland political establishment, as he was aligned with Stone and another incumbent council member reelected in 2014, Gino Filippi, and their bevy of supporters in the chamber of commerce and the Rotary Club. But as the final precincts reported and provisional and absentee ballots were tallied, Elliott surpassed Robinson, winning the election, with Robinson capturing second place. Stone defeated Bozar, and her elevation into the mayoralty created a vacancy on the council. In December 2016, the council, with Elliott supporting the move, appointed Robinson to fill that vacancy.
Initially, the newly composed council appeared to be a political monolith, with virtual unanimity in the votes on issues that came before the council. When the council made its appointments to boards, commissions, and committees and adjunct panels for 2018, as is traditionally the case in Upland, the mayor made the nominations, followed by council ratification. What was noteworthy at that time was that Stone had treated Robinson far more favorably in making those nominations than she did Elliott, with Robinson being handed more prestigious assignments than Elliott. Elliott, however, appeared to bear the slight with equanimity, and she remained a supportive member of the Upland team.
In late 2016, the council had directed acting city manager Marty Thouvenell to initiate what would become the major municipal issue of 2017 for Upland: the closure of its 110-year-old fire department and the annexation of the entirety of the city into a county fire service assessment zone to facilitate the county fire department’s merger. In the early months of 2017, the full council supported that move. As the community as a whole learned of what was afoot, however, a growing resistance to the county fire department takeover amassed. In March, Elliott began a gradual transition in her attitude toward the annexation issue, at first seeking to allow the protestors to stage open debates over the proposal. This upset and then angered the other four members of the council, who considered Elliott’s shift to border on treason, giving the resisting residents an opportunity the opportunity to pick up momentum in trying to stop the annexation. By April, Elliott was questioning the wisdom of the city fire department closure and had become personna non grata on the council. By June she was considered such a pariah by her colleagues that they voted to remove her from the three most prestigious adjunct assignments she had, those of alternate Upland representative on the Inland Empire Utility Agency, Upland’s representative on the San Bernardino County Interagency Council on Homelessness, and her position on the City of Upland Investments Committee.
This week, the council re-registered its displeasure with Elliott, bypassing her entirely in handing out committee, commission, board and adjunct assignments.
Councilwoman Carol Timm and Robinson were appointed to the economic development committee and the investments committee; Filippi and Robinson were appointed to the police and fire committee; Timm and Robinson were appointed to the public works committee; Filippi was appointed to the library board; Stone, Timm and Filippi were appointed to the sister city committee; Filippi was appointed to the Upland Housing Authority; Stone and Filippi were appointed to the Water Facility Authority along with public works director Rosemary Hoerning; Filippi and Stone were appointed to the county solid waste task force; Filippi was appointed to the Foothill Freeway and I-10 Freeway Corridor Design Authority; Stone and Filippi were appointed to the Inland Empire Utility Agency; Filippi and Timm were appointed to represent the city on the League of California Cities; Filippi and Stone were appointed to the Omnitrans board; Filippi was appointed to the San Antonio Water Company board; Stone and Filippi were appointed to the county transportation agency’s board; Stone and Filippi were appointed to the Southern California Association of Governments board; Filippi was appointed to the Ontario International Airport Interagency Collaborative board; Timm was appointed to the West Valley mosquito and Vector Control District board; and Eric Gavin was appointed to the board on the San Bernardino County Interagency Council on Homelessness.
The one concession the council made to Elliott was to allow her to remain as the city representative on the West End Consolidated Water Company, a term which ends on April 21.
-Mark Gutglueck

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