Council makes vote in sudden move
Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Created: 03/01/2011 05:16:56 PM PST

UPLAND – In a move that came as a shock to some, the City Council appointed Councilman Ray Musser to finish John Pomierski’s term as mayor.

Musser was appointed Monday after the council discussed its options for filling the vacancy left when Pomierski resigned last week.

“Now I guess it’s the Lord’s will that I help correct the situations that have gone astray,” Musser said. “That’s what my role playing is at this point.”

Musser ran for the mayor’s seat against Pomierski in 2004 and 2008. Musser came out on the losing end both times.

The mayoral term ends in 2012.

The council will soon decide how to fill Musser’s seat and has the same options – either an appointment or a special election.

Council members shared their thoughts on holding a special election to fill the seat versus appointing a mayor.

Staff members determined that a special election would cost at least $137,000 and could not occur until August at the earliest.

With Councilman Gino L. Filippi in opposition, the rest of the council decided to move forward with an appointment to avoid the time and money required for an election.

“It didn’t make sense from a cost standpoint, but, more importantly, I felt that we needed to correct this situation today,” Musser said.

Pomierski resigned Feb. 22 amid a federal investigation into alleged corruption in the city.

In June, FBI and IRS agents confiscated records from City Hall and Pomierski’s home office. They also took records from J.H. Builders in Upland and Venture West Capital in Rancho Cucamonga.

A search warrant for Pomierski’s cell phone sought records as evidence of violations, including racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, bribery, mail and wire fraud as well as money laundering.

No charges have been filed against Pomierski.

Councilman Ken Willis said no one on the council has anything to do with the allegations against Pomierski.

“The primary issue I think that was concerning everybody was the cloud over Mr. Pomierski, and he helped move part of that cloud by resigning, but it then became necessary for the council to exert itself in terms of making some decision so as to get that train moving on the tracks again,” Willis said.

On Monday, Willis nominated Mayor Pro Tem Brendan Brandt to the position, but Musser and Filippi voted down the motion.

Brandt then nominated Musser, who was appointed with three votes, including his own.

Filippi supported a special election and voted against both appointments.

Filippi said he was not expecting an appointment to be made during the meeting.

“I did not see the appointment process of the mayor’s seat being the vehicle to resolve the great mistrust and unrest that corruption has brought to Upland,” Filippi said. “I voted my conscience for transparency and open government.”

Musser said he voted against Brandt’s appointment for several reasons.

“He’s a very strong businessman with 20-something employees reporting to him; he has a family with small children – that competes,” Musser said. “It would collide in many cases with his family, and, I guess, No. 3 is I have seniority. I have the longest and most experience.”

Brandt said he supported making the decision immediately to help restore confidence in City Hall.

“I think that we need to now move on and go forward,” Brandt said. “I believe that all the council members are very capable, and I have my full assurance that we will work with the new mayor and I think he will do a great job.”

Several residents addressed the council before the vote on Monday.

Six were in favor of a special election, including former Mayor Richard Anderson and former Councilman Dave Stevens.

Four were in favor of appointments, including Tom Mitchell, who supported appointing Musser, and former planning commissioner Mark Bertone, who spoke favorably of appointing Anderson.

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