Posted: 07/16/2011 06:15:00 PM PDT

Candidates running for a vacant seat on the City Council were given a chance to share their thoughts on the Kenneth Beck vs. city of Upland case during a forum on Wednesday at El Dorado Mobile Home Park.

Candidates Muhammad Zaman and Maureen Sundstrom were out of town during the forum, but were able to respond later in the week.

The candidates responses in the order they spoke at the forum:

Ladan Bezanson, learning coordinator for Montclair, believes the reports on the case leaves a mark on the city’s reputation.

“It really stings our reputation as to how we deal with problems,” Bezanson said. “It makes us look like a few of our departments are corrupt, and that’s one of the things I’m talking about is restoring integrity to our office. If we cannot work effectively and well with the community they won’t trust us and we won’t represent them well.”

Eric Gavin, software architect for a Florida-based bank, said he and the other candidates received packages at their homes with the case and related documents.

“One of the things that immediately sprang to mind was this is one side of it,” Gavin said. “One of the things I think you’ll find about me is I may have my initial positions on something on any given issue, but it’s extremely important for me to get both sides of it.”

Elaine Courey, Bonita Unified School District teacher, said it was shocking to see a man standing outside her house with the packet of information when she got home from work as well as shocking to read through the information.

“I’m not going to place judgment on anybody or anything that’s been done in the past. I feel it’s time to move forward and move on and get the city back on track again,” Courey said. “I want my city to move on. I don’t feel this is something that should be brought up in this election. I feel we need to take the best interest of the city and work on moving forward, not backward.”

Bob “Bubba” DeJournett, retired Upland teacher and softball coach, is also a retired Monrovia police officer.

“I’m not going to sit here and judge whether it was right or not. The court decided in reference to that case and apparently there was some payout and things like that,” DeJournett said. “However, when you’re acting as a police officer, you’re working under the guidance of the law. You’re really working sometimes at a moment’s notice. You’re making judgments and then ship the paperwork to the (district attorney’s) office. If the DA signed a document indicating to make a lawful arrest, you make a lawful arrest and go to court.”

Dan Morgan, Upland city treasurer, said Beck should be held accountable for removing the pile of dirt and the city was incorrect by not going through the bidding process.

“It did appear to me that we as a city overreacted and forced this thing to go on for many years, where I feel it should have been a negotiation process. By missing the bid process I think we really messed up, and by not negotiating with this individual trying to rectify the situation moving forward,” Morgan said. “Sometimes I think government can get too legal-bound and wants to file lawsuits. We even file lawsuits against agencies in government, which is a pathetic mess. You really need to get together and negotiate.”

Steven Roppel, real estate agent with Lee & Associates, said the city needs to be wary of how the situation was handled.

“The city had to settle that it was handled incorrectly. We still have that pile of dirt out there. We still have the issue to deal with,” Roppel said. “We do need to consider how it was handled in the past, how it should have been better handled and how it will be handled going forward. We need to be concerned about individuals’ involvement in that matter and are they appropriate people to be in a position of leadership and trust at this point.”

Debbie Stone, funeral director for Stone Funeral Home, said the situation was handled improperly, but the city needs to move forward.

“It’s the old saying, `right is right and wrong is wrong,’ and no matter how you look at it what happened with the Beck case was wrong,” Stone said. “It was not handled properly. Procedures were not followed, and I think right there is where the mistake was made. It cost the city a lot of money, a lot of money we don’t have. We don’t need to be spending on lawsuits such as that because someone didn’t do their job properly.”

Sam Fittante, retired owner of a lawn maintenance company, said the case is history and the forum should not be a “roast Marty Thouvenell night.”

“I think the city of Upland wastes a lot of time not moving things forward quickly enough and just taking care of business,” Fittante said. “I don’t know Marty that well, but what I do know I appreciate. I don’t think elections should be a time to throw mud. You do your own homework on the situation and make up your own mind and vote from your heart. People use this word in our government, `transparency.’ I used it once in my campaign. I don’t care for the word. I like the word illuminate. You can have something transparent, but if it’s still in the dark you can’t see it.”

Muhammad Zaman, a management consultant, was not present during the forum because he was out of the state, but said on Thursday that he’s not sure what the city can do about the situation at this point.

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