What appeared to be a routine appointment to a new redevelopment oversight board in Petaluma turned into a rancorous quarrel Monday night between two old political foes.
The issue, a disagreement over the likely construction of the long-planned Rainier Avenue cross-town connector, escalated into sharp comments between Mayor David Glass and Councilman Mike Healy.
Glass accused Healy of being inflammatory and said he was taking a "cheap shot" at him politically.
Healy said he would be a better guardian for redevelopment funds meant for a Rainier project that Petaluma voters overwhelmingly supported in an advisory vote in 2004.
As part of the state-mandated abolishment of redevelopment agencies, the City Council was scheduled to consider Glass' two recommended appointments to the seven-member countywide board that will oversee the council's handling of redevelopment monies.
Glass nominated himself and senior planner Scott Duiven. Duiven's appointment sailed through on a 7-0 vote.
But then Healy nominated himself to the seat Glass wanted.
Healy, a longtime proponent of the Rainier connector, said he was trying to "be as gentle as I can" in describing why he would be a better representative.
"Take your best shot," Glass replied.
"I want to make completely sure that that money is safe," Healy said, referring to $7.5 million in redevelopment funds the city committed in 2010 to the design for a future underpass as Highway 101 is rebuilt and widened.
Glass, meanwhile, said he "went to bat" for getting the loan for that funding but he "absolutely (does) not" believe Rainier ever will be built because of a lack of long-term funding. He called it a "convenient lie" for Healy and other politicians to promise voters it will be.
Glass then called for a secret vote among council members for either him or Healy, although City Manager John Brown advised against that.
"I was trying to keep it as non-inflammatory as possible," Healy said.
"No, you weren't," Glass retorted. "No, you weren't."
The council split 4-3 to appoint Healy, with Chris Albertson, Mike Harris and Gabe Kearney siding with Healy. Glass won votes from himself, Teresa Barrett and Tiffany Renee.
"Good luck, Mr. Healy, and may the voters hold you responsible for your promises," Glass said.
He said he was proud he never "hoodwinked" voters about Rainier's viability.
Cost estimates for a Rainier cross-town connector vary widely, from $28 million to more than $100 million. The city has no long-term funding in place, although it has committed $11 million in redevelopment money in the past two years for its planning.
The city agreed in 2010 to plan and design an undercrossing to join Petaluma Boulevard North and North McDowell Boulevard.
Healy and Duiven will join two county representatives on the redevelopment oversight board, along with one each from the county Water Agency, the Office of Education and the community college chancellor's office.
The board will hammer out a plan for how to wind down more than $40 million in redevelopment spending the city has dedicated.