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Council reprimands commissioners

Civil Service Board members are called out for ‘inappropriate’ comments.

January 06, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — The City Council on Tuesday voted to censure two civil service commissioners for “highly inappropriate” comments made when they twice blocked the temporary promotion of a police lieutenant.

The council voted 3 to 2 to publicly reprimand Civil Service Board Vice Chairman Nathan Schlossman and his colleague, former Burbank Mayor Mary Lou Howard, arguing that despite confusion, the board did not act in bad faith. The vote came on a motion from Councilman Dave Golonski after he failed to secure support to remove the commissioners.

“I think they stepped so far out of their domain in the discussion,” Golonski said. “This is a department that is facing a pretty significant crisis. And we have a board that is supposed to be helping the city govern going really far afield in this case.”

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Vice Mayor Anja Reinke, citing confusion over the board’s duties, called for a reexamination of the board’s duties and relevancy.

The Civil Service Board twice denied extending the temporary advancement of Lt. Armen Dermenjian to the post of acting captain after arguing that a city employee named in an FBI probe into excessive-force allegations should not be trusted with additional responsibility.

But city executives contended that municipal laws prevented board members from micromanaging the Police Department, and that they were not authorized to determine the qualification of employees selected to temporary and provisional posts.

Although board members contended that they were merely using public information available to them at the Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 meetings — including newspaper clippings detailing the subpoena — Golonski objected to some of the comments. He referred to Schlossman’s comparison of the Dermenjian request to appointing a bank teller accused of mishandling money to a senior interim position.

“And I have to conclude, no, that would not be a good business decision,” Schlossman said at the time.

Howard questioned whether “it’s a good idea to appoint someone into that position who may be gone next week or two weeks from now.”

“This was a problem where the board did not focus on the process,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said. “The focus was the individual.”

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