Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Airport board votes to censure Greene
Behavior, Brown Act violations discussed
BY JUDI BOWERS
The Big Bear (CA) Grizzly
Big Bear Airport District board member Gloria Greene responds to the board’s decision to censure her.
Censure. It’s one of those words bandied about in political circles. It’s a vague term, one few people really know the meaning of or the consequences associated with the action.
Merriam-Webster defines censure as a judgment involving condemnation, an official reprimand.
Federal lawmakers tried to censure former president Bill Clinton but didn’t get enough votes. That wasn’t the case March 14 at the Big Bear Airport District board meeting. Four board members voted to censure fellow board member Gloria Greene. The resolution associated with the board action stated Greene had been disruptive, failed to abide by the Ralph M. Brown Act, failed to attend training sessions regarding governance and the board adopted social contract, among other issues.
“I absolutely do not relish this topic,” said board president Gary Steube. But it had to be on the agenda for consideration, he said.
Board member Steve Baker agreed he took no pleasure in the censure. He said the public was failed, and it’s up to the board to make it right. Baker said he witnessed outbursts by Greene that left him embarrassed for the general manager, the employees and the members of the personnel committee. Baker went on to say that he has personally tried to work with Greene to no avail.
Tension has been thick for almost the entire four years Greene has served on the board. Greene has been the odd person out in what she calls a voting block. Arguments have erupted among Greene and other board members.
Most recently, Greene attended a committee meeting and attempted to attend that committee’s closed session, which is not allowed under the Brown Act, the open meeting law. The committee meeting’s closed session was canceled and the meeting ended because Greene refused to leave.
Greene said she was only trying to attend the meeting as an observer. She listed several times she felt she was shut out of meetings, claiming any time she questioned items on a committee agenda, the group met in closed session. “If I appear to have a trust issue, I do,” Greene said.
She went on to say she would stand alone if she had to, because she is on the board for the people, Greene said.
As far as the social contract and governance training, Greene said the other board members don’t honor the contract either. The training, offered via a webinar, was when it was “pitch dark at 6 p.m. at night,” Greene said, not explaining her statement.
Prior to the board vote, the public weighed in on the censure issue. Former board member George Berge, who has been a staunch Greene supporter, accused the other board members of violating the Brown Act as well. Berge said the action is an insult to Greene and the community. “Censure doesn’t amount to a hill of beans,” Berge said.
Berge criticized Steube’s leadership saying if Steube as a leader stood up and led instead of sanctioning, the board wouldn’t have these problems.
Sandi Ybarra of Sugarloaf said she was appalled at the board’s action, saying the other four have shown Greene no respect.
Bob Hartunian of Fawnskin said the board is just trying to work within the guidelines of the Brown Act, but Greene is disruptive. Censure is about the only thing the board can do, Hartunian said. He said he thinks the action is deserved.
Steube said the action against Greene isn’t personal. Decisions made by the board aren’t tied to a voting block, as Greene claims, Steube said. They are part of the democratic process where majority rules. When one isn’t in the majority, it’s necessary to accept the decision, he said.
The board voted 4-1, with Greene opposed, to pass the resolution censuring Greene. The action removed Greene from the lease committee immediately and restricted all district-related travel to conferences at district expense without prior board approval.