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home : opinions : columns September 15, 2014

8/16/2013 6:00:00 AM
TIMES EDITORIAL: It's past time to change management at Blythe City Hall
Dave Lane
Dave Lane

The filing deadline for city council candidates has passed.

The good news is that despite taking out papers to run for the council, Blythe's serial retiring and unretiring police chief, Steve Smith, is not on the final list of candidates headed into November.

The bad news is that the final slate of candidates still holds the potential to perpetuate the tenure of Smith and City Manager David Lane.

The list of candidates includes incumbent Mayor Oscar Galvan and incumbent council members Sam Patel - also vice mayor - and Joey DeConinck. Also filing were former Police Capt. Tim Wade, Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency assistant administrator Dale Reynolds and Palo Verde College administrator Sheri Jones.

Here's the rub: Even though Galvan, Patel and Mike Evans are willing to get rid of Lane, who is the only person who can fire Smith, Lane's contract requires a four-vote council majority to fire him.

That contract is the handiwork of DeConinck and some cronies on a city council voters long ago kicked out of office but are still able to tie the hands of the council the people now have in office.

Thus, the tail is still wagging the dog absent the voters choosing wisely in November. Wade is running against the madness at City Hall. Ms. Jones' sentiments are not yet clear other than a candidate statement in which she says she's "seen significant progress in our city," but Reynolds is a painfully known quantity.

Reynolds, one of Smith's "Citizens on Patrol" volunteers, once told Smith at a city council meeting, "I have your back." We're sure that sentiment still exists today.

Reynolds has always used his political connections to help himself. As a good friend of former mayor Robert Crain, Reynolds, a former manager of the Rhyolite Apartments on Palm Drive, now named Desert Breeze Villas, helped his company acquire a $500,000 loan from the city to spruce up the property.

Moving on from that job, Reynolds took over the city concession stand at the Blythe Municipal Golf Course. Failing that, he now is second in command of the Palo Verde Transit Agency, where he answers to his fellow "Citizen on Patrol" buddy, George Colangeli, who answers to Lane.

Colangeli is also one of Lane and Smith's biggest cheerleaders, always commenting in their favor.

Reynold's incestuous relationships with City Hall politicians are well documented and disturbing. While voters dealt him a humiliating defeat in an election some years ago, his ego couldn't seem to stop him from throwing his hat in the ring again. Luckily, he didn't fool Blythe voters then and we don't believe he will fool them this time either.

The council needs to enact an ordinance forbidding any future contracts like Lane's. No other lame-duck council ever again should be able to saddle a future council with a management team that has been an utter failure at best and a menace to the town's future at worst.

This year's election shapes up as a battle between those who support Lane and Smith's outrageous paychecks and those who want a more thoughtful management team with a clear plan to move the city forward.

DeConinck has made no secret that he supports keeping Lane and Smith on and paying them more.

In eight years on the council, DeConinck, who is running for a third term, has made one horrible decision after another, from spending $25,000 on a sign downtown that has cost the city thousands in repairs, generates zero revenue and is primarily a forum for Lane's propaganda, to spending $800,000 of tax money earmarked for local roads on a plan to move the Riviera Drive off-ramp a few hundred yards west to build a Welcome Center that the city has no money to build.

DeConinck has admitted the plans for the Welcome Center will sit on a shelf at City Hall until $5 million becomes available to build it, a wild dream for DeConinck but a nightmare for Blythe residents who have to avoid potholes on just about every street in the city.

DeConinck, who is the lead man on the Welcome Center project, said the off-ramp was dangerous and the city had to move it. Ironically, no one can remember an accident at the off-ramp, which has been there since construction of the interstate in the 1970s.

It reminds us of the story DeConinck's good friends on the Palo Verde Healthcare District Board cooked up that the helipad, which had also been open since the '70s without an incident or accident, was dangerous and the state had to close it.

It's probably just a coincidence that Lane's wife worked for Desert Air Ambulance at the time, which urged Caltrans to close the helipad, which resulted in more business for their company.

It must be a coincidence also that PVH Board member Tina Sartin is a co-owner of Desert Air Ambulance.

Six months later, Palo Verde Hospital still doesn't have a helipad and a ground ambulance must drive patients to the airport which is the nearest helicopter landing site.

The point is that Lane's and Smith's only concern is how much money they can bleed from our community before they leave it.

Let's hope wiser voters show us a better, more responsive, progressive, Lane-free face of Blythe in November.

The opinion expressed is the position of the Palo Verde Valley Times.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Alert

The interview this morning was the same song and dance from Lane and Smith. Non-informative, arrogant and self-serving. There was so much arrogance that Lane joked about how he thinks our former congresswomen is in love with him, that's why she came to Blythe for a PAL awards ceremony. Where is the professionalism and class? Only in Blythe!

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