Last Tuesday night, he got called up to The Show. This Tuesday night, City Council rookie Bill Miranda makes his debut.
“The big thing is, for the next few sessions, I want to be a sponge,’’ Miranda told The Signal on Monday, less than a week after he was named to fill a Council vacancy in an appointment process not universally embraced among residents — many of whom had called for a special election, with its absence of a perceived odor of backroom politics.
Miranda’s swearing-in tops the agenda of the Council’s Tuesday night meeting at City Hall, right after the call to order.
He will take the seat vacated in December by Dante Acosta, who moved on to the State Assembly.
Miranda’s appointment passed by a 3-1 margin, with Councilman Bob Kellar casting the lone “no” vote – not criticizing Miranda, but rather saying he preferred another applicant.
Despite that non-unanimous ascension, it’s now time for Miranda to step into the batter’s box, to get down to the people’s business.
How has he been preparing?
“It’s only been a few days, and so mostly, I’ve met with the city manager, a few staff members, and getting up to date on (Tuesday’s) agenda and all the issues on the agenda,’’ Miranda said.
“A lot of reading, a lot of questions, that’s basically it, not much time to do anything else.’’
Miranda said he had not spoken to any other Council members, and still had to sit down with City Attorney Joseph Montes at length to go over various procedural matters. He said that meeting will take place “in a couple of days.”
Last week, Miranda said he planned to go through the client list of Bill Miranda Consulting, his small-business consulting firm, to check for clients doing business with the city – per Council rules that prohibit elected officials from such relationships.
“I came across one, I’m not going to mention (who) it (is),’’ Miranda said. “I came across one that is most likely a conflict of interest, and so we’re going to terminate that relationship.’’
Miranda is also managing partner of Valley Group, LLC, which publishes Our Valley Santa Clarita magazine. The publication gets no municipal money or advertising, both Miranda and the city said.
The city’s newest council member was also a member of Board of Directors of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, serving as an adviser to the Chamber’s Latino Business Alliance. He said he stepped down from that post on Friday, per rules of that organization barring Chamber officials from holding elected office, though as of Monday Miranda’s name still appeared on the Chamber’s website.
He emerged from a field of 50 area residents who had applied for the Council vacancy in lieu of an election to fill the seat.
Last Tuesday, the Council met in special session and heard from 40 of those applicants (10 were no-shows), and they made their cases in three-minute presentations to fill out the two years remaining on Acosta’s term.
Each applicant had filled out a form asking for residency and voter-registration information, along with reasons for wanting the Council seat. Applicants could also include letters of reference, and many did.
Miranda’s letters of recommendation came from Santa Clarita’s state senator, Scott Wilk; Laura Kirchhoff, development manager of the American Diabetes Association (for which Miranda has done volunteer work); and Curtis K. Woods II, 2016 chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Beyond those applications and references, any vetting of applicants was in the hands of Council members themselves, according to city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan.
“The City Council members are the elected officials, and it is up to them — they would do the vetting,’’ Lujan said.
Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste said the vetting did not much extend beyond reviewing those application packets.
The only assistance Council members got in the process, she said, was, “It was the City Clerk’s job … to make sure the people lived within the city’s boundaries and to make sure they are registered voters.”
“We don’t have a responsibility to do background checks,’’ Weste said. “But you saw all the people who applied, most of them are known quantities.”
First council meeting
As for Miranda’s maiden voyage on Tuesday night, there are 21 items on the Council’s agenda, including awards of community services and arts grants; approval of funds for a couple of construction contracts; and a pair of proposed moratorium extensions – one on non-medical marijuana activities in the city in the wake of Proposition 64’s passage, the other on allowing senior-citizen mobile-home parks to allow residents of all ages.
“I’m aware of most of the issues, some of them I’m not aware were going to be on the agenda for this meeting, but there were no surprises,” Miranda said.
He said he plans to ease into his new role, riding the learning curve.
“I want to know what the procedures are,’’ Miranda said. “I think as my tenure moves on past the first two or three council sessions, I think you’ll see me take a more active stance.
“For those who think I’m going to come in and be a bull in a china factory, they’ll be disappointed the first two or three sessions.’’
He also said that, while he has not spoken to any of the other Council members since his appointment, “Dante Acosta reached out to me, (state Senator) Scott Wilk reached out to me, (county Supervisor) Kathryn Barger, reached out to me, those are the ones that come to mind.’’
Miranda singled out his predecessor, and political pal, Acosta.
“We had a very nice coffee together,’’ Miranda said, “and I think he’s kind of letting me get my feet wet on my own. He doesn’t want me to be overly influenced by his experience. But he’s a good man and I know I can call him any time for advice.
“But he mainly said, just be yourself.’’