Compton City Council backs away from proposal to make mayor's job a full-time position
Compton city officials Friday night backed away from a proposal that would have paved the way to make the part-time mayor’s position a full-time job with a $180,000 annual salary.
The Compton City Council held a hastily convened special meeting to vote on resolutions that would have placed that question and others before city voters on the April 19 ballot. But at the last minute, in front of a packed audience -- especially considering the short notice -- the council tabled the items.
Friday would have been the last possible day the council could have voted to meet the deadline to get the measures on the April ballot.
Mayor Eric Perrodin, who brought the full-time mayor initiative forward, said council members felt they had not had enough time to look at the proposals before voting. One council member, Lillie Dobson, was absent from the meeting. Dobson and Councilwoman Barbara Calhoun typically form a voting bloc with the mayor.
The mayor currently draws compensation of $63,000, including council and commission stipends and auto allowance, for a part-time position -- making the position already one of the highest-paid mayors in Los Angeles County.
Perrodin came under fire last year for frequent absenteeism from council meetings; the council subsequently changed the meeting times so that they no longer conflicted with Perrodin’s day job as a deputy district attorney with Los Angeles County.
Perrodin said he placed the full-time-mayor initiative on the agenda at the urging of citizens. “There were some citizens who asked me. They said, you should be a full-time mayor because most people think the mayor’s the one who runs the day-to-day operations of the city,” he said.
If the measure had gone on the ballot and passed, the mayor would have become chief administrative officer of the city, a role currently filled by the city manager, Perrodin said. In that capacity, the mayor would have power to direct and discipline city personnel, a power currently reserved for the city manager.
Along with converting the mayor’s position from part time to full time, the resolutions would have asked voters to switch the city over to an entirely vote-by-mail system and move primary elections from the third to first Tuesday of April and general elections from the first to third Tuesday in June beginning in 2013. They also would have consolidated council members’ pay from their council duties and other boards and commissions into a single lump sum of $4,000 a month, the same amount they make currently, not counting a $650 monthly auto allowance.
Under an alternate to the full-time mayor proposal, the mayor's salary would have been locked in at $5,000 a month, slightly higher than the current rate.
At the meeting, former Mayor Omar Bradley made his first public statement at a council meeting since he lost the seat to Perrodin in 2001. Bradley’s tenure was overshadowed by a conviction in 2004 for misappropriation of public funds, for which he was sentenced to prison but served time in a halfway house.
On Friday, he accused the council of violating the U.S. Constitution if it voted to place the measures on the ballot, by depriving candidates or potential candidates of notification that the positions they were running for might change.
“Because that is a violation of the Constitution, I came tonight basically to tell the Council in an advisory capacity that they’re treading in dangerous water,” Bradley said after the meeting.
Having missed the deadline for the April election, Perrodin said he does not anticipate reintroducing the full-time mayor initiative.
“I love the city of Compton, but my first job, my first priority, is as deputy district attorney,” he said after the meeting.
-- Abby Sewell at Compton City Hall