Council cannot reverse vote to replace signs Legislators misled about requirements

October 05, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,SUN STAFF

The County Council cannot reverse its decision to spend $200,000 to replace thousands of street signs, even though lawmakers say a public works administrator "lied" to them before their vote.

"It's both literally and figuratively out of their [the council's] hands," said Diane Hutchins, County Executive John G. Gary's governmental relations officer. "Once it's delivered to the county executive, they cannot do anything with it."

Lawmakers approved the appropriation Monday night and had sent it to Mr. Gary Tuesday when they learned that Robert Loomis, assistant director of public works, misspoke when he testified that new federal safety rules required the county's street signs to be upgraded with larger letters and more reflective paint.

After learning that the sign-replacement program, which could cost $1.8 million over the next five years, was not mandatory, several lawmakers said they would reconsider their decision at their next meeting Oct. 16.

Administration officials conceded Tuesday that the federal government is only considering new sign standards.

Those officials also conceded that they do not know whether the standards will be mandatory or advisory.

"We were misled," said Councilman Thomas Redmond, a Pasadena Democrat. " 'Lied' is strong language, but basically that's what they did.

"Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to reconsider," Mr. Redmond said. "They [public works officials] are going to get the money and waste it."

Lisa Ritter, Mr. Gary's press secretary, said the legislation had not reached his desk.

She said she did not know whether Mr. Gary intended to sign the bill or voluntarily send it back to the council.

Administration officials will meet with the council this morning to discuss the situation and the need for the sign-replacement program, Ms. Ritter said.

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