Love-Fest for Cort
P.G. residents beg mayor not to resign; library parcel tax approved for November ballot.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
At the beginning of last night’s Pacific Grove City Council meeting, the petition to recall Mayor Dan Cort and three other city councilmembers only had three signatures: those of David Dilworth and Terrence Zito, who are spearheading the recall, and long-time P.G. resident Ellen Coile.
“I’m sorry he ran for re-election," Coile said. "I think he’s a rotten mayor."
But inside City Hall, residents were decidedly on the mayor’s team. More than a dozen speakers rallied to Cort’s defense, asking him to reconsider his intent to resign at the end of the month. No one spoke against him, and Dilworth remained outside.
Craig Riddell of the P.G. Planning Commission said Cort has been “a wonderful public servant…I don’t know how we can get qualified people on the council if we’re gonna treat them all as punching bags once they get here.”
“Recalls should only happen in cases of fraud and illegal acts,” said Bruce Cowan. “Resorting to threats is not democracy.”
“A vocal minority in our town has found a way to prevail,” said museum volunteer organizer Tama Olver. “My heart goes out to you.”
Other speakers who had Cort’s back included developer Nader Agha, Weekly publisher Erik Cushman, Museum Foundation board members Lila Staples and Judd Perry, and Museum Director Lori Mannel.
Mannel’s daughter Clara and her friend Coral, both local fourth-graders, blasted Dilworth’s recall effort. “We know a bully when we see one,” they said in unison. “Mayor, please don’t resign. Our town needs you.”
Sonya Liddy told Cort, “You are not only more than qualified for the job, but you also do not need it… A majority of people are saddened by your resignation.” She gave P.G. a new nickname, “America’s Most Selfish Hometown,” and called Dilworth “a cancer to our town.”
Former council candidate Ken Cuneo said the state’s budget crisis, which is feeding P.G.’s financial problems, couldn’t be helped. “Buck up and do what you can to move on in a positive frame of mind,” he said. “All of you deserve our respect. You put your reputations on the line by choosing to serve the people of Pacific Grove.”
Cort thanked everyone who spoke on his behalf, then proceeded with a businesslike meeting.
Many residents also spoke in support of a parcel tax to fund the P.G. Library. The Council unanimously approved placing the $96-per-parcel ($75 per unit in multifamily residences) annual tax on the November ballot, which needs two-thirds voter approval to pass. The tax would generate about $650,000 per year—still falling short of the $1 million needed to keep the library open full-time, but enough to restore some of the recent service cuts.
The council added a 10-year sunset clause to the ballot measure in an effort to make it more palatable to voters.
Nic Coury contributed to this report.