The recent push by San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia to expedite the demolition of the Carousel Mall died on the vine late Wednesday, June 1, after all but one of his colleagues declined to back his pitch to level the place as soon as possible.
“Another example of a do-nothing council,” Valdivia said in response.
He subsequently refused to recognize at least one council member who wanted to reply to his comment, then, following a moment of silence in honor of a late community member, adjourned the meeting.
Three weeks after a three-alarm fire broke out at the Carousel Mall, Valdivia on Wednesday sought to add an item to a future City Council agenda detailing how to begin the process of razing the long-shuttered downtown shopping center.
Only Councilman Juan Figueroa supported the proposal.
Councilman Ben Reynoso was absent from the meeting.
Without support, the item will not be brought before the body at a later date.
Valdivia called the Carousel Mall “a health and safety hazard for the community” in the wake of the May 15 blaze, and encouraged his colleagues to expedite the demolition process to prevent future incidents there.
Figueroa agreed at the May 18 council meeting.
“By not taking action with this mall,” he said, “we’re going to continue putting people’s lives at risk.”
Demolishing the Carousel Mall is part of a Disposition and Development Agreement, or DDA, presently being negotiated between the city and the team tasked with redeveloping the 43-acre site, City Manager Rob Field told council members Wednesday.
It is unclear when that pact will be finalized.
Valdivia, who is up for reelection in the Tuesday, June 7, primary, has called his colleagues “a do-nothing council” in interviews, official memos and public statements, touching a nerve with certain elected officials. Without naming Valdivia specifically, Councilman Damon Alexander took umbrage with such comments early Wednesday evening.
“Some candidates have called this council a ‘do-nothing council’ more than once,” he said from the dais. “We are a bunch of hard-working individuals and this is the best council that’s been around that I’ve observed for a while, and we are moving this city forward.
“When someone says this is a ‘do-nothing council,’” Alexander continued, “that puts it out there to you guys who don’t know him that we’re not moving the city forward. That is incorrect.
“Since I sit up here,” Alexander added, “I take offense when people say such. It’s offensive to my colleagues when they call you a ‘do-nothing council.’ That is inappropriate if you want to preside over said body.”
Valdivia did not respond to Alexander’s comments and called his colleagues “a do-nothing council” four hours later.
Also Wednesday, the City Council approved a sunny two-year operating budget, allocated $100,000 to enhance visual, performing and literary art services and programs throughout town, and invested $750,000 in violence intervention efforts.