Behind the Imaginary Plot to Keep Phil Brock from Becoming Mayor


It seems that every two weeks a new absurd conspiracy theory pops up between when the city uploads the agenda for the new City Council meeting and when the meeting happens. Tonight’s meeting is no exception.

This time, the conspiracy is that a minor change to the council’s operating rules proposed by Mayor Gleam Davis is really a secret, convoluted plan to stop Councilmember Phil Brock from ascending to the mayor’s seat next year.

While I don’t doubt that there are many people that don’t want to see Brock become mayor; this particular theory makes no sense because it would be a lot easier to recall him from being mayor than it would be to stop his ascension through this rule change.

Under the current council rules, a simple majority (4 councilmembers) of City Council members can “fire” the mayor and hold a vote for a new one. The item would have to be agendized ahead of time, so if the Council decided to remove its mayor, it would take a couple of weeks from when the majority reached this conclusion.

This would only be done in the most extreme circumstances. There are probably several times this year when Lana Negrete, Brock and his fellow Change Slate Councilmembers Christine Parra and Oscar de la Torre would have loved for Davis to be removed; but it hasn’t happened.

Davis’ proposed rule change would make it possible for a Councilmember to make a motion to suspend Council rules immediately before the vote to affirm Brock as Mayor. The vote would require five Councilmembers to suspend the rules. Should that happen, then with a vote of four Councilmembers, a different mayor than Brock could be selected.

So let’s be clear, the conspiracy here is that Davis is seeking to change the rules to stop Brock’s ascent to the Council by creating a system that requires more votes to change who the mayor is than the current system. 

It might be a really dumb conspiracy, but that doesn’t stop probably future mayor Phil Brock from loving it.

If this is a conspiracy to stop Brock, Davis is showing a lot less savvy than she shows running City Council meetings.

At their first City Council meeting of the year, the City Council changed the way the new mayor is selected. In the old system, the Council would vote on a mayor and mayor pro-tem (similar to a vice-mayor) for each of the next two years. 

In the new system approved last December, a new mayor is appointed every year based on seniority. Davis as the longest serving member of the Council was first and Brock, who will be entering his fourth year in 2024, was second.

Davis’ motion doesn’t change this order of mayoral succession, it just clarifies how and when the council can suspend its rules. So if this was really a conspiracy to stop Brock, and one assumes that Davis would be joined by Councilmembers Caroline Torosis and Jesse Zwick; it would still take two of the four remaining Councilmembers to suspend the rules and vote for someone else.

As far as conspiracies go, this one still needs a lot of work.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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