Loomis planner fights mayor's proposal that could oust her

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 - 7:52 am

A Loomis planning commissioner is crying foul over a proposal by the mayor to change city rules in a way that would allow her to be ousted without a vote of the council.

Loomis Planning Commissioner Janet Thew said she is being targeted in response to her challenge of the legality of Councilman Dave Wheeler simultaneously serving as the local fire chief.

In May, Thew, along with activist William Branch, asked the state attorney general's office to step in and remove Wheeler, claiming the offices were incompatible. Questions about the legality of Wheeler serving on overlapping districts have been around since his 2012 election.

Loomis council members now designate individuals for the Planning Commission, but the entire council must vote on the actual appointment or removal of commissioners. Under the proposed ordinance, planning commissioners could be appointed or removed without a majority vote. The council is expected to discuss the issue at its 7:30 p.m. meeting today at 5775 Horseshoe Bar Road.

Thew said city residents shouldn't just be concerned about whether she's fired.

"It means that a councilman could switch out their commissioner based on how they'd vote on a particular issue," Thew said. "It destroys any integrity of a planning commission."

State law gives cities wide discretion on how to structure and appoint planning commissions, said Patrick Whitnell, general counsel for the League of California Cities.

"There is not a legal requirement that a city have a planning commission," Whitnell said.

In an email to The Bee on Monday, Mayor Walt Scherer backed away from the proposal. "The item appears to be causing some concern in the community," the mayor wrote. "I have been discussing this with folks today and anticipate that the council will not be taking action on this item at tomorrow night's meeting. We will take input from the public at that time.

"However, I have been hearing the public's desire to retain the current process in order to keep public involvement and oversight in the appointment process for committees and commissions. That makes sense to me."

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.

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