Guest opinion: It is time to stop the revolving door

File art courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection


By Martin La Magra

Every Paramount taxpayer and voter should go online and view on YouTube the July 2, 2019 meeting of the Paramount City Council. A red flag warning was issued to our community when Mayor Tom Hansen, Councilmember Daryl Hofmeyer and Councilmember Peggy Lemons, all members of the Paramount Chamber of Commerce, voted in together to appoint Brenda Olmos to the City Council.

When she takes her oath of office, the City Council will consist of four members of the Paramount Chamber of Commerce. The alarming fact is that Brenda Olmos is the past President and former director of the Chamber of Commerce and a current active member through her employer AppleCare Medical Management.

No other City Council in the State of California has as many council members that are affiliated with a Chamber of Commerce than Paramount. This gives new meaning to the word “Cronyism,” which is the practice of favoring one’ close friends, especially in political appointments.

In the Paramount city budget for 2020, $40,000 is set aside for the Paramount Chamber of Commerce. Much of this money pays for the Chamber newspaper “The Pulse Beat” which every month liters our streets and neighborhoods.

Why so much money set aside for the Chamber of Commerce? Shouldn’t the Chamber of Commerce be funded largely by the members it serves, the businesses that are its members? Why through the Paramount city budget?

Ah yes, 4 Chamber of Commerce members also sit on the City Council. Now we know why the City does not have the funding for many of the necessities we have been requesting such as a “dog park.”

There is hope in the near horizon and we will have our say on Election Day March 3, 2020. Mayor Hansen, Council Hofmeyer and appointed Councilmember Brenda Olmos will all be up for re-election. The 2017 election of current Councilmember Laurie Guillen was the mandate that it is not a requirement to be affiliated with Chamber of Commerce to sit on the Council. Guillen was the top vote getter, defeating 2 twenty-year incumbents.

She is not a member of the Chamber of Commerce. We as taxpayers and voters must end the rigged system of governance and cronyism at City Hall once and for all. Brenda Olmos should have done the right thing and decline an appointment.

Remember this: Not one resident was allowed to submit an application to apply for the vacant Council seat. Hansen, Hofmeyer and Lemons shut that door to the community in order to appoint their hand-picked close friend Brenda Olmos. Only Councilmember Guillen stood for the community and pushed for an application process.

We have the power with our votes on March 3, 2020 and must sweep them out for good. United, we must stop the practice of partiality in awarding jobs and other advantages to friends or trusted colleagues, especially in politics and between politicians and supportive organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce.

Martin La Magra, Paramount resident