Beverly Hills News – Fifth Councilmember Selected is Kathy Reims to Fill Brien Vacancy
Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 – 6:13 PM
By Victoria Talbot
After a full day of interviewing the twenty-four applicants to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Councilmember Willie Brien, the four remaining council members have selected former Planning Commissioner, Traffic and Parking Commissioner and Chair of the Budget Review Committee as their fifth council member.
Reims has also served as a member of the Blue Ribbon Santa Monica Boulevard Reconstruction Committee, Beverly Hills Meals on Wheels and the El Rodeo PTA. The order of the interviews was randomly selected by drawing last week, and Reims name was number sixteen on the list.
Kathy Reims was the choice of Councilmember Lili Bosse and Mayor John Mirisch.Bosse was adamant that she did not want to take Demeter, Pressman or Felsenthal from the commissions.
Vice Mayor Nancy Krasne also selected Kathy Reims, but in addition, named Public Works Commissioners Jerrold Felsenthal and Barry Pressman, and Health and Safety Commissioner Myra Demeter. Councilmember Gold named Felsenthal, Pressman and Demeter.
Mayor Mirisch named Reims as his only selection.
Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves, followed by the standard two questions. Mayor Mirisch asked first, “You will serve for nine months. What are your realistic expectations for that time?” and “What is the City’s most critical problem and how would you solve it?”
Many of the applicants answered by describing their plans about what they felt needed to be accomplished. Others were vague. The answers ran the gamut.
The ‘most critical problem’ was widely answered with some variation of development, over development, traffic, parking, density and the effect on residents’ and their quality of life. The word “balance” was often used to discuss the relationship between businesses’ and residents’ interests.
However some felt the the most critical issue to be water shortages, education, health care, pedestrian safety, and many other issues.
Following these standard questions, each council member in turn asked their own personal questions of the applicant.
For example, Mayor Mirisch often asked applicants, “What place do you think skyscrapers do or do not have in our community, going forward?”
He prefaced that with a caveat that he was not referring to any particular skyscraper, though Mirisch has been very public with his opposition to the Hilton’s plans for a 26-story building.
Councilmember Bosse regularly asked each applicant what their experiences had been with CUPs (Conditional Use Permits) and EIRs (Environmental Impact Reports). Many candidates said that had no such experience. A few had abundant experiences, and the two issues will be forthcoming on the agenda in the next nine months.
Councilmember Gold and Vice Mayor Krasne demonstrated more spontaneity in their questions. The order of questioning was the same as City Council, with Gold first.
When it was Reims turn to answer their questions, Councilmember Gold behaved uncharacteristically, asking her a question he said he had been told to ask by other “people.”
“Without being disrespectful, with your relationship with Councilmember Bosse, how independent to you think you can be,” asked Councilmember Julian Gold. “I have had people call me and ask if they should withdraw their applications because it is a done deal.”
Reims answered that she had no doubt she would, as she had always been, continue to be independent. “I know you mean no disrespect,” she said, “but I still feel . . . (gesturing with a twisting fist at her stomach)”
The question addressed the close relationship between Bosse and Reims, who served together on the Planning Commission. The two have had a working relationship and each expressed their offense that Councilmember Gold would ask the question.
When all the interviews had been completed, Gold proffered three choices, though he was asked to submit just one. His effort put several names on the table. It was possible each council member would answer with several names, thus increasing the likelihood that one of his names would stick, and not Reims.
All his colleagues on the council had expressed their positive feelings about her when they interviewed her. “I am very thrilled that you are here today,” said Krasne.
Bosse withdrew her 2nd and 3rd choices because they were “distant second” and already commissioners. In lieu of her selection of Reims she would go with an election, rather than choose a commissioner, she said. Mirisch agreed. Krasne was concerned about all the applicants who had spent their time and effort on the process.
Finally, they settled on Reims, Mirisch asked Gold, “Kathy was not on your list; does that mean you would not feel comfortable with that decision?
“The question is, ‘Who would I prefer,'” responded Gold.
Clearly, Councilmember Gold was unhappy with the selection, but the choice was made.
The City sent out the following press release:
The Beverly Hills City Council has appointed longtime resident and former Planning Commissioner Kathy Reims to fill the vacant City Council seat. At a special meeting May 31, the City Council selected Ms. Reims after interviewing 23 candidates.
By special arrangement the meeting will be held on Monday – not Tuesday – because of scheduling conflicts. The L’Ermitage Hotel and the expired CUPs will be on the agenda. Reims will be seated for that deliberation.