The Charter Again - Why?
As I wrote earlier, tomorrow the Costa Mesa City council will, once again, visit the "Charter City" issue at a Study Session in council chambers at City Hall beginning at 4:30 p.m. Although we don't know for sure, we assume (nasty word) that the meeting will last a couple hours because there is a special closed session scheduled for 6:30. You can read the agenda for the meeting, including information provided by the California League of Cities, HERE. Most of this information is not new, especially for those of us who spent twelve months dealing with this bogus scheme beginning in November, 2011.
Let's be clear about this right up front. Nobody has demonstrated WHY Costa Mesa should become a Charter City since Jim Righeimer first announced his quick pitch scheme in November, 2011. And, after almost a full year of back-and-forth discussions, public hearings, long, rancorous meetings, tens of thousands of dollars spend on both sides of the issue, the public made it's feelings known by soundly rejecting Jim Righeimer's Charter last November - 60% - 40%!
ARROGANT DISREGARD OF THE VOTERS
Now Righeimer, as he promised immediately after being crushed in the ballot box, in an arrogant disregard of the will of the people he supposedly serves, has brought this bad idea back. It is unlikely that this process will go quietly into the night. No, we can probably expect AT LEAST another year of meetings, arguing and fracturing of the city as he tries, once again, to impose his political will on the residents of this city.
PREVAILING WAGE CHANGE IN THE WORKS
This time around there are some changes in the air that will certainly affect this plan. There are two pieces of legislation floating around Sacramento that will impact the arguments for a charter. One, if passed, will disembowel Righeimer's main argument for a charter - that we can save a ton of money by not being required to pay prevailing wages on major projects. During the past battle, beginning about a year ago, we had our council chambers packed with imported partisans on both sides of the issue. Several unions salted the audience with vociferous folks who spoke against the Charter. Righeimer imported Kevin Dayton - who can forget his squealing performance before the council when Righeimer gave him 10 minutes, not 3, to pitch his position? Others, including Dave Everett from the Associated Builders Counsel, also took a turn at the speaker's podium. Both men wrote commentaries in the local newspapers.
ONLY ON A GENERAL ELECTIONThe other element currently in discussion in Sacramento is a change to State Law that would require a Charter to be placed before the voters ONLY in a General Election, not a Primary Election or special municipal election. Some will recall the latter was the case when the City of Bell became a Charter City - only 450 voters showed up for that one - and the rest is history.
ELECTED COMMISSION?...IF the council decides to go to battle again - they can't do that at the Study Session tomorrow - they must choose between an elected Charter Commission or an appointed Charter Committee - two VERY different birds. If a commission is used State law is very clear about how that process must go, including requiring 15 members. That commission would have to be elected at either a Primary or General election - the next one available is June, 2014, although that legislation I mentioned above might push that out to the November election. From that point, the commission would have two years in which to craft a charter - including significant public outreach - or it would be disbanded and the process would have to begin again. And, the city council would be bypassed in the process - they don't get a chance to manipulate the charter at all.
...OR APPOINTED COMMITTEE?If a committee is used, it can be created the same way others are created - like the Pension Advisory Committee that was created this month. The council, as they did with the recent appointments, can manipulate the process to stack the deck with their true believers and - most important - gets to decide just what the Charter will look like that would be presented to the voters next year.
SOME REFERENCE MATERIALAs I thought about this process again I went back and revisited some of the things that were written about Jim Righeimer's Charter last year and earlier this year. Even though this list is daunting, some of you may wish to revisit some of the things that were said about that scheme. I've tried to provide both sides of the discussion - except the links to my blog entries. I may not have given you EVERYTHING that was written, but this list is plenty long. I've put them in chronological order.. Have fun.
COSTA MESA DOES NOT NEED TO BECOME A CHARTER CITY!Let me be clear before you tackle this list. I don't think Costa Mesa needs to become a Charter City! We've done just fine as a General Law City in the 60 years of our existence. We've benefited from the protections from abuse and corruption provided by State Law under this system and, quite frankly, I just don't trust the current council majority with the kind of power that is potentially available with a Charter form of government.
BANKRUPTCYOnly 25% of California cities are Charter Cities, and some of those in deep financial trouble - Stockton, San Bernardino and Vallejo, for example - operate as Charter Cities. Vallejo and Stockton have declared bankruptcy and San Bernardino is teetering on the brink.
THE LISTSo, here's the list. Click on any that interest you and you'll be taken to the blog entry or article:
- Righeimer's Bombshell, 11/2/11
- G.Ridge, Council Majority Wants To Pull Wool Over Our Eyes, 12/31/11
- Let's Not Be Hasty, 1/3/11
- Righeimer to Propose Charter Tuesday, 11/30/11
- Anticipating Righeimer's Presentation, 12/5/11
- The Scheme Outlined, 12/7/11
- Informational Meeting Moved Up, 12/21/11
- Apathy Equals Surrender, 1/5/12
- Charter Suggestions, Timetable Correction and RDA Meeting, 1/5/12
- Mini-marathon of Mischief, 1/11/12
- Tardy City Charter Mailer Due, 2/10/12
- The Charter By The Numbers, 2/12/12
- Public Hearing Without Listening, 2/14/12
- Contemplating The Charter Hearing Again, 2/16/12
- The Fat Lady Is Tuning Up, 3/6/12
- Jim Righeimer's Charter Will Be On June Ballot, 3/7/12
- Charter Arguments Posted on City Web Site, 3/10/12
- Charter Might Not Be On June Ballot, 3/13/12
- Excellent Turnout For CM4RG Forum, 3/16/12
- Charter Would Allow Virtual Takeover of C.M., 3/24/12
- Judge's Tentative Ruling Posted, 3/26/12
- Jim Righeimer's Charter Off The June Ballot, 3/27/12
- Breaking News! City To Appeal Decision, 3/27/12
- City Clerk Placed On Administrative Leave!, 3/28/12
- OK, Back To Business, 4/1/12
- Charter Appeal Denied!, 4/2/12
- Petulance, Fabrications And The Long Road Ahead, 4/4/12
- Costa Mesa Plans Charter End Run, 4/9/12
- Is The Special Meeting Legal? (Updated), 4/9/12
- Special Meeting Canceled!, 4/10/12
- Righeimer's Charter, And More, 6/6/12
- P. Valantine-Limited Charter Provides Best Future Growth, 6/12/12
- J. Stephens-Court Decision Illustrates Charter Dangers, 7/6/12
- C. McCarthy-Candidate Is Wrong About Charter Cities, 7/10/12
- Jim Righeimer's charter Moves On - Again, 7/11/12
- E. Egan-McCarthy's Anti-union Piece Missed Mark, 7/12/12
- K. Dayton-Vista Ruling Benefits Local Governments, Residents, 7/12/12
- City Clerk Julie Folcik Resigns, 7/13/12
- C.Mooney-Barlow Spun Instead Of Dispelled, 7/25/12
- Final Vote On Charter Tuesday, 7/27/12
- Costa Mesa Charter On November Ballot, 8/1/12
- Council "Fixes" A Mistake To Fool Voters, 8/9/12
- J.Serna, Dispute Permeates Emergency Council Meeting, 8/10/12
- Why You Can't Trust Righeimer With His Charter, 8/11/12
- No On "V"!, 8/13/12
- J.Righeimer-I Challenge Katrina Foley To A Charter Debate, 8/15/12
- K.Foley-The Charter Is Flawed; I Will Debate, 8/20/12
- K.Dayton-Righeimer's Opponents Clearly Fear The Charter, 8/31/12
- P. Valantine-The Proposed Charter And No-Bid Contracts, 9/3/12
- J.Harlan, Proposed Charter Is No "Constitution", 9/15/12
- K.H.Grams-Costa Mesa's Charter Process Has Confused Residents, 9/17/12
- G.Monahan-Charter Would Free Costa Mesa From State Control, 9/18/12
- J.Harlan-More Questions About Charter Arise, 9/22/12
- League Of Women Voters Opposes "V", 9/27/12
- K.Mora-Charter Would Reduce Sacramento's Hold (Corrected), 10/1/12
- Charter Was Composed In Haste, 10/1/12
- J. Kern-Column Twisted Facts About Charter City, 10/5/12
- J. Harlan-Why Costa Mesa Should Reject The City Charter, 10/6/12
- E.Egan-Questions About The Proposed Charter, 10/9/12
- H. Panian-The Opinion Of A Former Charter Commissioner, 10/10/12
- J. Humphrey-Out-of-town Official Is Wrong About Charter Savings, 10/11/12
- Feet To The Fire Charter Debate, 10/16/12
- J.Fitzpatrick & R.Dickson-Average Costa Mesa Salary Is To High, 10/23/12
- J.Moorlach-Unions Are Trying To Squash Measure V, 10/26/12
- J. Bridges-Measure V Supporters Are Getting "desperate", 11/2/12
- D. Everett-Measure V Would Level The Playing Field, 11/2/12
- J.Harlan-Vote Shows A Need For Compromise, 11/10/12
- Final Election Numbers, 11/30/12
- B. deArakal-Charter Government Suits Costa Mesa's Personality, 12/1/12
- J.Humphrey-Out-of-town Money Supports Measure V, 12/2/12
- Please Tell Us Why Costa Mesa Needs Charter, 12/6/12
- E.Egan-Charter Would Not Free Costa Mesa From State, 12/11/12
- T.Sesler-Controversy Of Mayor Pro Tem Is "Orwellian", 12/13/12
- T.Egan-Are We In Ancient Rome Or Costa Mesa?, 3/8/13
- N.Berardino-There Is Hope This Season For C.M. Employees, 12/13/13
- C. Mooney-A Charter Review Committee Should Be Elected, 3/20/13