Missing the larger point
The debate about whether Councilmember Jim Oddie and Vice Mayor Malia Vella violated the letter or spirit of the City Charter misses the larger point: the successful campaigns of both were heavily financed by the firefighters union whose preferred candidate for Fire Chief the Councilmembers were lobbying the City Manager to select.
The question of whether the union’s Oddie and Vellas’ interest in this candidate was for the good of the city or a payback to the union may never be answered, but it forever hangs over their heads. They have both already paid the political price with Oddie’s poor showing in the last election and the new recall attempt against Vella.
This is a cautionary tale for all current and aspiring officeholders. Don’t open yourself to scrutiny by relying too heavily on campaign contributions from individuals or groups who may have business before the Council.
It is also a call to the community to demand that the new City Council consider campaign finance reforms and conflict-of-interest guidelines that would preclude a recurrence of this situation. It would be for Councilmembers’ own protection as well as ours.