Kevin Cody

Fangary denied Hermosa Mayor’s seat by Hermosa Beach council colleagues

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Councilmember Hany Fangary expressed his displeasure at being passed over for mayor by recusing himself from the vote for mayor Tuesday night. Easy Reader file photo 2013

by Dan Blackburn

Hermosa Beach has a new mayor following Tuesday’s city council meeting, but the usually routine rotation was not accomplished without significant rancor.

Justin Massey was elevated to the post on a unanimous vote from the council, after council member Hany Fangary recused himself. New council member Michael Detoy was elected mayor pro tem.

Fangary has filed a lawsuit against the city because of being passed over for mayor pro tem in November. Had he been named mayor pro tem, he would have been in line to be named mayor last night.

Council member Stacey Armato said Fangary “has disengaged” from committees and other council activities.

Armato said she consulted with her rabbi before deciding Fangary should not have the mayor’s post.

“He has cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees,” she said of Fangary. “He has continued to show an inability to work with our city manager, he has refused to adopt our city budget, he doesn’t agree with our city attorney’s contract. I think at this time that we need a unifier, not a divider, we need a leader who can work effectively with staff. At this time I cannot support nominating Hany Fangary as mayor.”

Long-time city resident and retired engineer Howard Longacre penned a five-page letter to the council critical of their decision to bypass Fangary for the mayor’s position.

 “When you set policy to punish another of your duly elected colleagues to de facto give yourself more power, or advantage,” he wrote, “you are in my view bordering on the worst kind of corrupt politician, notwithstanding how incredibly small you are showing yourself to be. None of you on the council are any better than any of your colleagues, and that Hany Fangary in your minds or any others have rubbed you wrong, gives you no ethical right to punish him.”

Outgoing Mayor Mary Campbell said, “It’s been an incredible year, and an honor to serve the city during a time of crisis. We have a long way to go to get our community through this, but we’re doing it.”

In other council action:

— Heard a report from Chief of Police Paul LeBaron suggesting the need for enforcement of COVID-19 health regulations has diminished, with fewer people gathering outdoors as winter approaches.

As a result, the city’s pandemic enforcement officers are no longer being utilized. Their responsibilities will now be handled by police and city staff.

The chief’s report did not require council action, but Armato worried that “an additional enforcement tool” was being sidelined.

“Can we achieve compliance without them?” she wondered. LeBaron assured the council that “if needed, we can bring back the health enforcement officers,” noting that “we have used most of the available funding for this. We are seeing a lot more compliance and a lot fewer people.”

Indoor gatherings with numbers exceeding county regulations will now become a threat, the chief said. 

Fangary disagreed, saying, “I don’t think our compliance has gone up enough to justify scaling this back. It’s not the right time to ease up on enforcement based on the numbers we are seeing.” ER



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