Leaderless Torrance

leadership 5We are leaderless.

The Torrance Chamber of Commerce sponsors a program called Leadership Torrance. Applications will be open for the next class in November 2016.  Some of our current elected officials might want to apply.

Torrance is in the midst of a political storm.  It’s flailing and floundering. We are being tossed to and fro by the waves. Someone needs to steady the ship and get us back on course. We need a captain. A leader.

Who will take the helm?

We are leaderless Torrance.

The news first hit the front page of the Daily Breeze over a month ago.  The mayor’s campaign broke the law.  He was fined.  Previously, he had scoffed at even the notion there was a perception of impropriety.  “This was no impropriety,” he said.  “I had nothing to do with it,” he exclaimed.  He misled the public.  He lied to us.  It wasn’t the first time.

There was a Town Hall after the last big crisis shortly after Exxon exploded in February 2015. People were scared. People were concerned.  What had happened?  To what had we been exposed?  People wanted answers.  We needed leadership.  Mayor Furey wasn’t there. He said he was in Sacramento. He wasn’t. He lied then too.

With the pressure mounting at the last Council meeting, Mayor Furey unloaded.  He blamed the Daily Breeze for inaccurate reporting.  He told us to read the Torrance Tribune to get the facts. We did. The facts did not change.

downloadHe called local reporter Nick Green a “mullet” and a “hate monger.”  It wasn’t the first time he’s tried to intimidate the press.  It was just the latest episode.  At one point he even tried to get Nick Green removed from his position. He has labeled all those that oppose him as “Ambassadors of Negativity,” and claimed that “you can’t see the negative side from me because I’ve done a great job.”

That’s not leadership.  That’s called arrogance and bullying behavior.  He hasn’t done a great job.  He can’t be trusted.  He is a leader, but not the type of leader we need.

We are leaderless Torrance.

If not Mayor Furey, then who?

For the last month since the scandal broke, we have waited and wondered who will rise to the occasion?  Who will lead us?

Councilwoman Ashcraft has tried.  At the first Council meeting after the news hit, she requested concurrence from her colleagues to discuss removing Patrick Furey Jr. from the Traffic Commission.  Her request was met with silence.

Two weeks later, a majority of the Council agreed to discuss sending Patrick Furey Jr. a letter requesting his resignation, but as of yet nothing has actually happened.

Why has it taken so long?

Councilman Griffiths offered a clue. They don’t have the votes. Not enough are willing to put their political neck on the line. Griffiths responded to an e-mail on the subject stating:

“doing what we can…appear to be a minority on the Council.  Strong public outcry could change the minority to a majority! Silence from credible public lends itself to strengthening the arrogance.”

Silence from elected officials also lends itself to strengthening the arrogance.  Silence is not leadership. Silence is cowardice. Silence is weak.

Yet, silence seems to be the order of the day.  Not one member of the School Board has said anything publicly despite Patrick Furey Jr. remaining on the TUSD payroll as a Personnel Commissioner.  That’s not leadership.

The issue also seems to have the current group of City Council candidates running for the hills instead of running for office.  We have had two forums and not one of the candidates has even dared mention the issue, let alone take a position on it.  That’s not leadership.

leadership 4Candidate Leilani Kimmel-Dagastino, in particular, seems intent on avoiding the issue. After just missing out on a Council seat in the prior election, she hired Patrick Furey Jr. to work on her campaign. She was recently asked via her campaign Facebook page on at least two separate occasions by two separate voters if Furey Jr. was still her campaign manager.  The questions were deleted. Leaders do not avoid tough questions.

We are leaderless Torrance.

Leadership is about making the tough calls, the hard choices. A leader offers vision for the community and asks others to follow. A leader helps shape public opinion, instead of just trying to follow it.

The Daily Breeze Editorial Board and dozens of residents have called into question the mayor’s fitness to serve and asked for his son to be removed from office. What will the Council do?

Torrance is in the midst of a political crisis, but its problems go deeper.

The crisis before Exxon was Toyota leaving. Our City officials side-stepped that issue as well. Nothing we could do they said.  It’s all Sacramento’s fault. Our hands are tied. They have largely taken the same stance with Exxon. Let’s leave it up to state regulators they say.

Is there nothing we could have done or should be doing to confront these major issues facing our community?

With Toyota leaving, Exxon exploding, and the Council imploding we need a leader.

But unless someone steps up to take the helm…

We are leaderless Torrance.

32 comments

  • Claude Todoroff

    I have asked on a couple of occasions where are the voices of our former mayors on city council people? Dee Hardisan never has a problem sticking her nose in every political race in this city. But she says nothing now. Where is Frank Scotto, Ted Lieu, Al Murasutchi, Bill Applegate, Maureen O’Donnell, Tom Brewer, Bill Sutherland, Don Lee and so many others? Furey, Brewer, Sutherland, Scotto, Don Lee etc. have no problem endorsing people for local office and higher. Why are they all a bunch of gutless wonders? I guess their plan is to circle the wagons and ride the storm out. Shame on you spineless wimps. Your silence says loudly that you don’t care about corrupting the city you once served. The marines ar enot going to land at Torrance beach and free us from this stench of corruption. We need to e-mail the city council and tell them that both Fureys have to go. We have to do the heavy lifting because the insiders are just going to let the cancer of corruption take over this city. We can do this if we all send just one e-mail to a city council person of your choice. Sending the same e-mail to all 6 plus the mayor would really shake them up. We can do it and let’s get cracking.

    • Claude, as a reminder Brewer and Sutherland did pen a pretty powerful joint editorial to the Daily Breeze. I think we need to give credit where credit is due. Unlike some of the other folks you mention, they were willing to take a stand on the issue. http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinion/20160323/torrance-mayor-pat-furey-disappoints-letters

      • Anonymous

        Thank you Clint for mentioning that Brewer and Sutherland have already made their feelings known about the Furey’s. I would like to point out that Mike Mauno did too. I have really appreciated your balanced reporting on the mess we are seeing with the Furey’s. You have pointed out when Furey Sr. may have been right and corrected yourself when you made have made an error. Your reporting must take you a tremendous amount of time and for that I want to thank you.

    • Linda Gottshall-Sayed

      Claude: Update. Mayor Frank Scotto, his wife, Tom Brewer and Judy Gibson attended last evening’s city council meeting, where Jr., resigned at the eleventh hour. We were all in row 4 or 5 on the left side of the aisle as you enter the council chambers.

  • Very well expressed but you’er speaking to a community of ‘couch potatoes’ who are comfortable with letting someone else ‘throw the first stone’. The people of Watts did not get a new city rebuilt for free by watching the riots on TV., they got involved.

  • I am tired of this culture of pay-for-play backscratching! Do the right thing, Torrance City Council! Remove Pat Jr. from the Traffic Commission!

  • Anonymous

    Any current council member that does not call to recall both Furey’s should be added to the
    List.
    Peace
    Don clounch

  • Anonymous

    Great piece Mr Paulson. Time to wake up and clean house. Me Furey and his son are delusional if they think nothing they did was wrong. While you are at it, add McCormick and TFD.

  • Great post.

    Leilani Kimmel-Dagastino wants to fly under the radar like the City Council. They want the voters to “lead the way” instead of the other way around. As Clint says, it is just cowardly.

    I would like to point out this op-ed piece from the Daily Breeze. Sorry, if it was already mentioned:
    http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinion/20160407/if-torrance-mayors-son-wont-leave-the-council-must-force-his-exit

  • BTW, how about a “Recall Furey(s)” rally in front of City Hall? Would Nick Green attend? If we could get notice to Channel 7 a priori, it would be a big boost. They televise Torrance events fairly regularly.

  • Anonymous

    The Mayor was willing to throw his son under a bus to protect himself. Can we expect him to do anything to protect us? of course not. He is a pompous, crooked politician who had to resort to illegal means to get himself elected. The only two City Council members who stood for what is right are Griffiths and Ashcraft. School is still out on Goodrich. I hope he doesn’t get splinters from all the fence sitting. I don’t care what kind of job McCormick Ambulance has done, they need to go and their contract should not be renewed. That is like giving someone a reward for stealing. Check out the new people who are running for City Council. A couple of them were endorsed by Furey, so do not vote for them. We should clean house even if it is only one current member at a time.

  • Mike Kosidlak

    I, for one, am not perfect. I can absolutely relate to the ‘stone-throwing’ aspect of this City. And there are enough stories to write a book about this great City’s historical missteps. But we the Citizens have to live in our time, deal with the present, learn from the past. But once again we have hit a bump in our collective road, so to speak. Our Mayor Furey claims innocence, and Furey Jr. wants to let it all blow over. The Mayor seems to be telling us, “I’ve nothing to hide. The show is over. Lets move on.” … Not so fast… I think the point he is missing is that as a public, elected official, he is held to a higher standard. And that is where he seems to think his protection lies. Behind that veil of his election, he may consider the recent FPPC finding as ‘just everyday business’ as Mayor. Personally, I feel he is wrong. He needs to take a good look at how this is all playing out. His stance from behind the dais seems to have blocked his view of this city. The vast majority of the people are not happy with how this is playing out. And I don’t mean the FPPC ruling. I’m talking about the fact that Mayor Furey can get into this mess, only to step right out of it, appearing to think he smells like a rose. And only to bully and pound his fist claiming innocence when confronted. That is not the Mayor that Torrance needs right now. And I have not heard any information come out from the supposed investigation he hints about, but it better come out fast. The longer Mayor Furey sits in that chair, the longer the facts of the FPPC case can spread across this City, the more time I have to tell people what happened, the more I can only suggest he step down.

    • Anonymous

      “The vast majority of the people are not happy with how this is playing out.”

      I would bet the “vast majority” of people in Torrance don’t even know this is happening. Sad, yes. But likely true.

      • Mike Kosidlak

        ‘The Vast Majority who know about it or are told about it…’ may be the more appropriate way to say it. It would be an interesting poll, though.

  • Larry Corrao

    Very good write-up Clint. We need to keep informing the Torrance residents who really care about the future direction of this city. We cannot be bullied by the bully Mayor!

  • Jackie Shelhart

    As a long time residence since 1950, we’ve had politicians come and go….it is time for both Fureys to go!!!

  • TorranceTruth

    In reading the addenda item for April 12, the issue of Pat Furey Jr. is under oral communications and as a result the council cannot take action. I thought this was the item the council wanted back so they can take action. Something smells here knowing the mayor approves the agenda before being posted.

    • TorranceTruth, I believe the Pat Furey Jr. matter is under administrative matters, not orals. My understanding is that the Council will hear the matter this evening and make a determination.

      • Clint, in watching the video of last week’s council meeting, I believe that they will take inputs from the public.

      • Linda Gottshall-Sayed

        Hi Clint. As you know (since you were personally present at the meeting last evening), the City Council had the issue of ousting Patrick Furey, Jr., from his traffic commission position on the agenda. Tim Goodrich advised all off those councilmembers, residents and staff the preceding week that Patrick Furey, Jr., had no intention to resign from his spot … so the council requested staff to place “removal” of Patrick Furey, Jr. from the commission position on the April 12 agenda. However, at the eleventh hour (reportedly 20 minutes before the 7:00 meeting was to start, the City Manager advised all those in attendance at the meeting that he had INDEED resigned by e-mail, making the discussion of his removal (item 12D on the agenda) moot. As you saw, Clint, the chambers were packed last evening …. some in support of the volunteers being recognized, but a large portion there to speak either on that item or under the first section of orals. It was a passionate display by the residents, calling for the mayor’s resignation or asking the remaining city council members to censure him. The best it apparently served, was to move the mayor to apologize for his outrageous conduct last week and that the FPPC violations occurred — but still disclaiming knowledge or responsibility.

  • Rita Jelsma

    I, too, am a long-time Torrance resident – 61 years. I have also certainly seen many politicians come and go…some resigned, and some should have; some concerned for our great city, some only for promoting themselves. In order to gain trust in our Mayor (and City Council again), it would be essential for Mayor Furey to step down from his elected position. I am surprised, for want of a more appropriate word, that the public has not already raised an outcry or uproar to oust both of them! The public must demand both Furey’s exit from their “posts.” We can only hope that others stepping in to fill their positions would hold high principles!

    • One Furey Down One Furey to GO.
      ..

      • Linda Gottshall-Sayed

        Rita and Elaine: We will just have to be pleased that Pat Jr. has resigned for now … from the Traffic Commission anyway. The mayor is not likely to resign. He is up for re-election in two years … we can only hope peoples memories won’t fade in the interim.

        • Linda, kudos on your speech at last night’s council meeting. According to Nick Green’s Daily Breeze article from April 3rd, “The District Attorney’s Office says it has launched an investigation into whether the illegal contributions violated the city’s Municipal Code; the FPPC says they did, but it lacks the jurisdiction to take any further action.” If this turns out bad for the Mayor, that would force him out. Of course, I am assuming that the District Attorney is not in the Mayor’s hip pocket.

  • Tom

    every election the incumbents and the challengers say there going to ‘fix’ the traffic congestion.
    guess what they don’t do nothing and it get worse. They love to say there only getting $100 a month
    oh really. Lets count up the value of their health,dental, life and Retirement to PERS contribution
    Oh I forget they can get Social Security also. And they can get paid for attending meetings like
    Vector Control. Appointment to outside agencies that pay per meeting is decided by the Mayor
    He can of course appoint himself and guess what he did? Yes your right..

    • D

      Pat Jr did resign from Personnel Commission…but guess who replaced him? His mommy, aka, the Mayor’s wife, Terry Fuery. :(. Ironically, the job of the Personnel Commission is to prevent favoritism in hiring. What the hell, Torrance? Isnt anyone paying attention

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been interviewed by Nick Green and found his determination to get a “good, tasty quote” both with disdain and with admiration at his commitment to his craft. Pat’s on the run, you don’t call a reporter like Nick Green a “mullet” or a “hate monger”. You treat him with courtesy and respect and let him do his job! Nick Green for the win!

  • DZ

    Pat Jr did resign from Personnel Commission…but guess who replaced him? His mommy, aka, the Mayor’s wife, Terry Fuery. :(. Ironically, the job of the Personnel Commission is to prevent favoritism in hiring. What the hell, Torrance? Isnt anyone paying attention

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