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Council Plays Team Ball, Selects Beall and Baric in Tandem

Tony Beall becomes the first mayor to serve consecutive terms in the city's history as council votes for a team, rather than selecting a mayor and then a mayor pro tem.

There were no fireworks, and it didn't take all night as some people thought might happen. But the City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita did step out of line by not doing things the way it has done them in the past.

It did not vote for a mayor and then a mayor pro tempore, but instead selected a team.

Councilmembers spoke of acting in a united front, and by a 4-1 vote, Tony Beall was selected the city's mayor for the second year in a row with Steve Baric filling the vacant role of mayor pro tem.

The one dissenting vote was Jesse Petrilla, who had asked that instead of voting on Carol Gamble's "team selection" proposal that the mayor and mayor pro tem be selected separately.

Petrilla also provided the most surprising moment of the process following Jerry Holloway's nomination of Beall and Gamble's nomination of a Beall/Baric ticket. Petrilla nominated Gamble for mayor. Sitting to Petrilla's right, Gamble's eyes widened in shock as she turned her head quickly toward the youngest councilman in the city's history.

Gamble admitted she was flattered by Petrilla's gesture, but withdrew her name because she is caring for her 89-year-old mother, who for more than a month after contracting pneumonia was "unintentionally medicated" with an anti-psychotic drug not intended for use by the elderly. "I don't know what I'm doing next Friday, let alone in 2012," Gamble said.

Gamble's rationale for nominating Beall and Baric as a team appeared solid, noting Beall's leadership over the past year and the fact that Baric is the vice president of the California Republican Party who will likely have extraordinary demands on his time in a presidential election year.

Both Holloway and Gamble indicated their preference for Beall as mayor was to provide some consistency as the city breaks in a new city manager with the retirement of Steve Hayman, who was honored at the beginning of the meeting.

"There's going to be a learning curve, and the relationship between the city manager and the mayor is a close one," Holloway said.

Beall had opened the discussion by nominating Baric to succeed him.

"We’ve had a heck of a year, and I’m proud of where this city council sits as of today; we’ve come a long way and achieved a lot," Beall said after his selection. "The most important thing to me tonight is when we finish this vote and move on after tonight, that we move on as a united, positive, cohesive and very functional city council that always makes every decision based on the best interests of this city."

Richard Oakley December 15, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Excellent choices and excellent rationale behind the selection process! Congratulations Tony and Steve!!
Russ Pacmuney December 15, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Congratulations to both gentlemen. As for the rationale, this is politics, so take nothing at face value. My guess is that Mayor Beall vowed never to let Jesse Petrilla be Mayor. This is simply a political chess move. Jesse will not get to be Mayor before his re-election bid in 2014 since Steve will be Mayor through 2014. I suspect there will be a lot of effort to unseat Jesse then. If you don't think so, just go back to how the appointment process unfolded. Mayor Beall is also up for re-election next year. Keeping his status as Mayor no doubt helps his re-election bid, particularly given the inferences in prior new articles that this will be the most expensive city council race ever, potentially topping the money spent on an Assembly race. $100K+ is a lot to raise under these tough economic conditions.
Jack Leonard December 15, 2011 at 06:28 PM
It is unclear where your where your information is coming from regarding, "potentially topping the money spent..most expensive city council race ever". Perhaps the assumption is many candidates will be running? Steve Baric will serve as mayor pro tempore during 2012 and by tradition, will be honored with a mayoral position to serve in 2013, not 2014 as suggested above; and thank you for staying involved in local governance.
Russ Pacmuney December 16, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Thank you, Mr. Leonard. Nice to know that the Patch and city has such a nice Ambassador. Appears my math is indeed a year off. Steve Baric would likely serve as Mayor from Dec 2012 to Dec 2013, leaving the opportunity for the 2013 pro tem to be Mayor in 2014. Guess we'll have to wait for the outcome of the 2012 elections in order to speculate who's Mayor in 2014. As for the $100K+ figure, I wouldn't be surprised if political action committees from outside RSM take an interest in next year's city council race. Never know in politics.
Brent Hoff December 16, 2011 at 05:58 AM
It was too bad more residents weren’t able to attend the meeting last night; it was a classic version of a political kabuki dance. The choreography for this dance started the day Gary Thompson resigned his position. Over the following months that followed, there was a concerted effort by three of the Council members not to appoint a mayor pro tem. In an attempt to save face after the public relations debacle of trying to replace Mr. Petrilla during his military commitment, Mayor Beale made the insincere motion of suggesting his nomination Mr. Petrilla as Mayor Pro Tem. This was done with the knowledge that there would not have been a majority vote to adopt that motion; this again was political gamesmanship at its finest. This strategy set the ground work for last night’s political folly. Two of the Council members acted out their well-rehearsed ploy to insinuate that re-electing Mayor Beale was the only viable option to weather the rough year ahead with the replacement of Mr. Hayman. I know Mr. Baric saw this whole scenario unfolding from his quote of “I’ve been at this rodeo before”. If anyone thinks that the tactics of last night will bring about a more cohesive Council, I think you’re really being disingenuous with yourself.
Russ Pacmuney December 16, 2011 at 03:15 PM
People should listen to the audio of the Dec 14th city council meeting beginning at 1 hr 8 min 30 sec (01:08:30). The 3 minutes of public comments says it all. Link is below for convenience: http://www.cityofrsm.org/gov/council/agenda_2011.asp
RSM Dad December 16, 2011 at 03:50 PM
What type of cheese would you two like with your whine?
Brent Hoff December 16, 2011 at 04:33 PM
The whole mayoral appointment episode was blatant hypocrisy. Last year when Mr. Petrilla made the motion to nominate Mr. Baric as Mayor Pro Tem and go against the ten year tradition of an orderly transition of rotating the mayor and mayor pro tem positions on a seniority basis with a somewhat ceremonious vote, Mr. Petrilla was soundly berated for such behavior. It made known that there was an orderly system in place and it should be observed and followed. That is until the last meeting, when mega egos obviously trumped the rules and traditions of the past. After last night’s actions a new precedence has been established that will probably lead to more upheaval in the way a mayor is selected in the future. Last night’s scheme was the epitome of why voters are disgusted with politics from local to national. I truly hope all of the people that were interested in filling Gary Thompson’s vacancy are still interested in running in 2012, because we need some fresh and honest options to consider in filling the three positions that will be open in the next election. Maybe RSM Dad would like to run, but he’d have to show his real name. That won’t happen.
Julie McGirr December 16, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Congratulations to both Tony and Steve. This really was the best of all possible outcomes, and the rationale makes perfect sense. Tony has done a phenomenal job as mayor, especially considering the challenges that the past year brought, and it's comforting to know that our city will be in such capable hands as we go through the transition of finding and hiring a new city manager. I'm also confident that Steve, with his experience, will also be a great mayor in the following year. Again, sincerest congratulations!
Brain McGuirr December 16, 2011 at 05:56 PM
I am in full agreement with Brent. Mayor Beall will now be known as Mayor Bell. Mayor Bell is the most divisive person that has ever served this city. To put him back as our city leader for another year is a travesty. His political games must go. Take your games back to CAPO! We do not need them here! My hope is we will see three strong candidate come forward to remove Mayor Bell, Gamble, and Holloway. Our city has now been changed by Mayor Bell and not for the better. I believe we have always rotated the mayor seat to councilmen not up for election. That has now changed. I have never posted before but now must speak up for those not paying attention to our local politics.
Flannery4 December 16, 2011 at 10:19 PM
Interesting comments, can't say I disagree with you though I think Petrilla is a kid. who were the people that wanted to take Thompson's seat? Could any of them do any better than the people who are there now?
April Josephson December 16, 2011 at 11:22 PM
I completely agree with you, Julie. This is a great decision. Any transition is difficult, and with a new city manager, it is best to have the experienced Mayor stay in place. Councilman Baric has done a good job of being at community events this past year, so having him as the Mayor Pro Tem makes sense too. It is sad to watch special interests threaten with PAC Money from outside of our city. They are attempting to start political games when the council is just trying to do their job as well as it has been done in the past and get over the hard feelings that those outsiders stirred up in the 2010 election. They clearly don't have the best interests of our city at heart. I have to wonder whether they are jealous that we have a surplus and are the safest city in the state among other things. They must want everyone to be as dysfunctional as our state government is...misery loves company! For the record, there is a misnomer being spread that this is the first time a sitting mayor is up for reelection. RSM Historians will know that in 2006, Mayor Thor ran for reelection.
Simon Ellenberger December 17, 2011 at 12:20 AM
The issue is not one of performance, it is about honesty and true intentions. If Mayor Beall had said, "I want to stay on as Mayor to improve my chances of being re-elected," then people couldn't quibble about his honesty. He could have even said, "I've done a good job as Mayor and I deserve to stay on another year." Instead, as one can be easily hear from the audio, it was a well orchestrated political manuever. I liked Steve Baric's line that "I've been in this rodeo before." The excuse about Steve Hayman's retirement just doesn't hold water. The Mayor doesn't pick the new city manager. It's all five members of the council. Please, we're more intelligent than that. Most Mayors are gracious enough to let others lead the council. Leadership and respect are earned, not only through accomplishments, but by the actions he or she takes, particularly when there are unselfish. It's really hard to believe politicians these days, particularly when political stunts like this only reinforce their true character.
RSM Dad December 17, 2011 at 01:02 AM
Jesse's whiner and sniveler supporters seem to be out in force. They must be eating limburger cheese with that whine by the smell of things.
Simon Ellenberger December 17, 2011 at 01:12 AM
With all due respect, RSM Dad, I am not a Jesse supporter. I did not vote for him. Nor would I when he is up for re-election. I'd appreciate it if you post meaningful comments rather than attack those with views that differ from yours. It's rather disingenuous on your part to do that, particularly when you do not divulge your name. Commenting in the shadows has no dignity.
Marilyn P. December 17, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Russ, please explain why you think Jesse Petrilla qualified to be mayor before 2014. He's proven time and time again that he's not experienced or mature enough to hold this position until he gets his feel wet. In case you missed everything, here's a recap (The reader comments after each article complete the picture): http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/city-council-no-appointment-but-plenty-of-antics http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/a-heated-dialogue-among-council-members http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/jesse-petrilla-a-lightning-rod-in-a-memorable-council-debut http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/petrilla-should-find-availability-or-find-an-excuse-to-get-out-of-council-selection http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/heavy-hitters-on-deck-for-second-round-of-city-council-interviews http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/second-round-of-candidates-appear-before-city-council http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/petrilla-gives-council-go-ahead-to-go-on-without-him http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/petrilla-returns-to-council-minus-the-drama
April Josephson December 17, 2011 at 09:36 AM
Simon, I respectfully disagree with you. The issue is definitely one of performance. Our city is run very "lean and mean," to quote Councilman Petrilla from Wednesday's study session. The economic development consultant at that meeting stated that for RSM's size, we should have 4 times as much staff as we do. Yet, we are an exemplary city. Given our limited staff and high standards, the new city manager will have to hit the ground running and need as many experienced contacts as possible to get off to a good start. The stability of having the same mayor as last year will absolutely help the new city manager do a better job, and our residents deserve nothing less. Your argument that the entire council, not the mayor, picks the new city manager is off-base. That wasn't the rationale behind the choice to retain the existing mayor. Nor did the 2012 campaign have anything to do with it. Mayor Beall nominated Councilman Baric, then Councilman Holloway—who will be running against Beall in 2012—nominated Beall. Why would he do that if this was about the election? Who wants their competition to be the Mayor, if being the Mayor provides a campaign advantage? If your remarks are to hold any water, you'll need to explain Holloway's actions... The truth is, those who have already been mayor know the demands and institutional knowledge required and they put the city's interests first by choosing to maintain stability in that area while the new city manager gets his (or her) sea legs.
Tom Bren December 19, 2011 at 01:34 AM
I have watched from a distance and witnessed a very cunning and divisive man in Mayor Beall. I am very surprised the Mr. Holloway and Ms. Gamble are drawn into these political games. If we were trying to unify this council, Mayor Beall was the worst choice. Look at the past year of decisions and abuse by this man. This is what he did at CAPO. He divided the board and is now doing the same thing here in Rancho. He put in place friends who gave him a million dollar judgement for his name being on a piece a paper. We see now that all charges were dropped against Fleming and the district stands to lose millions more. I predict many seats will be turned over in 2012. Oh and by the way, Brad McGirr, you are Tony Beall planning commissioner so don't even think about getting the publics support if you decide to run.
Josh Griffin December 28, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Marilyn P. You're incorrectly assuming that this is about Jesse. We don't care about Jesse.

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