Click photo to enlarge
Hercules councilwoman Myrna de Vera in Hercules, Calif., on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. (Sherry LaVars/Staff Archives)

The Hercules City Council nuttiness has become a serious legal liability and a huge distraction to critical issues confronting the financially beleaguered city.

First, Councilwoman Myrna de Vera threw a fit because she wasn't reappointed last year as mayor and started make unsubstantiated charges that her colleagues had violated open-meeting laws.

More recently, she tried to silence a critic who worked for a contractor employed by the Pinole-Hercules Wastewater Subcommittee -- a subcommittee on which de Vera was a member. While de Vera has halfheartedly apologized, she hasn't acknowledged the serious abridgment of free speech rights.

Now outgoing Councilman Gerard Boulanger wants the council to pass a resolution Tuesday night that would censure de Vera, fine her $1,000 and not allow her to serve her normal rotation as vice mayor in 2013.

While de Vera's behavior was reprehensible, the resolution goes beyond the council's legal authority. We note that City Attorney Patrick Tang has not approved it.

Voicing disapproval through a censure is fine. But the council, composed of two members, including Boulanger, who lost re-election bids last week, cannot bind a future council's selection for vice mayor. Moreover, it cannot fine its own members.


Advertisement

One can easily imagine the slippery slope when elected officials start imposing financial penalties on colleagues with whom they disagree. We made that same point last year when the council -- wrongly -- fined Boulanger $500 for lying to voters about his education and political experience.

We strongly disapprove of Boulanger's and de Vera's behavior. But the punishment is up to voters. Last week, they ousted Boulanger, who leaves in December. They might do the same with de Vera in two years if she doesn't shape up.