Turmoil swirls around council

Culver Controversy

   The Culver City Council situation worsened Monday night, when Councilor Richard Hancock resigned after a contentious meeting.
   "I can no longer function in that atmosphere," Hancock said by phone afterward. "I hate to do it. It's not something I choose to do, but when you no longer feel you can be effective at a free position, and you're treated like s---, it's time to go."
   Hancock, who retired to Culver after a combined 40 years in the U.S. Army and federal civil service, has served on the council since 2006, when he was appointed to fill out the term of Jay Schilling, who resigned in May of 2006.
   Since the December death of longtime councilor Stella "Sam" Clark, only three remaining voting members of the council remained -- President Thelma Krueger, Hancock and Shawna Clanton, who was elected in November of 2006 to the position formerly held by Anzie Adams. Mayor Dan Harnden is only called on to vote when there is a tie.
   The council disagreed on who to appoint to fill Clark's position, and after testimony from a packed room on March 5, the council voted 2-1 to appoint Anzie Adams to fill out the remaining term for the position. Clanton was the dissenting voter, with Krueger and Hancock voting for Adams.
   The term of that council position, as well as Hancock's position, both expire at the end of December.
   "The people voted her out of office, and now they up and brought her back," said Jack Ickler, a retired farmer. "It was against what everyone wanted in the room. I told them it was like a slap in the face."
   Adams was defeated by a slim margin in the November 2006 election. She received 125 votes to Krueger's 131, and Clanton's 138, with only the top two vote-getters taking seats on the council.
   Community members wanted the council to appoint Amy McCully-Rife, who had also applied for the position. McCully-Rife, who is retired, has lived in Culver for nearly two years.
   Clanton commented after the meeting, that "it was obvious to me that even though Ms. Rife was not as experienced as Ms. Adams, the citizens did not want us to appoint Anzie."
   "In my opinion, Hancock and Krueger thumbed their noses at the citizens to get Anzie appointed," she said.
   Hancock disagreed, noting, "Of the two who applied, (Adams) was by far the best qualified. She had a lot of institutional knowledge about the streetscape project we have coming up."
   "She was instrumental in getting the grant and put in a lot of study about what needed to be done and how to do it," he added.
   Krueger echoed Hancock's sentiments, explaining, "The other lady hasn't been here long enough and doesn't know anything about the city."
   Responding to charges that Hancock and Krueger had formed a voting block, Hancock laughed and said, "I think Thelma and Anzie and I have very similar views on the goals of Culver and what we would like to see, but we disagree on things. We definitely are not a group, as such."
   Hancock resigned after he said he was personally attacked by those attending the meeting. "I feel like a great load has been lifted," he said.
   Before Hancock's resignation, the mayor shifted Hancock from overseeing parks to sewer, Krueger from sewer to transportation, and Adams' position from transportation to parks. Clanton remained in her position as the councilor in charge of overseeing public safety.
   Clanton was the only one of the three who was satisfied with the changes.
   "I was elected for four years, and my goal when elected was to try to bring the council together to work in an ethical way for the city," she said. "I'm in my second year, and it has gone from bad to worse."
   The council has 60 days to appoint someone to fill Hancock's position and McCully-Rife has indicated she will not run.