First off, the headline I chose might be a little misleading. The study is to find ways to cut COSTS for public safety. Agenda item 13 (lucky number?) on Monday's council agenda calls for a study of the costs of the Fire Department AND the potential for getting rid of our local police department and contracting with County Sheriff.
Is this really about looking at Fire? Given that the LA County Firefighters have never seen a decrease AND they are the largest contributors to council candidates, I doubt it. This is about getting rid of the Pomona PD. This is something that has been brewing for a long time. In speaking of the dismantling of Pomona PD and hiring of LA County Sherrif, one Councilperson even told community groups that this was a "Done Deal."
The last time there was a Charter Review and subsequent changes, the citizens determined that such a change has to be confirmed by a vote of the people, not a city council decision.
According to our city charter:
Sec. 706. City Police Department/Chief of Police.Is this the reason that the city council has decided not to appoint a Charter Review Commission and to be COMPLETELY OUT OF COMPLIANCE with the city charter? Are they afraid that a citizen commission would disagree with them? Under the City Charter:
(b) Within the departments established, police services as required by law shall be performed by Pomona City Police Department employees. The City may not contract for primary police services with the County of Los Angeles or other police agencies without a vote of the City's electorate. The City may contract for ancillary police-related services without a vote of the electorate. (emphasis added)
Beginning in January of the year 2010, and in January of every tenth year thereafter, the Council shall appoint a Commission to consider and propose amendments to the existing Charter. No later than twelve (12) months from each inception, the Commission shall submit its proposals to the City Clerk for placement on the ballot at the next scheduled election."
Note that there is NO wiggle room in this section. The Council shall in January 2010 appoint a Commission. However they have not done so and it is NOT on the agenda for April 5. So we're now 4 month late--WHY? According to the definitions in the charter itself"
"Sec. 1501. Definitions.
So the council is not following the law (the charter is the supreme law governing the city).(a) "Shall" is mandatory and "may" is permissive."
There is no legitimate reason for this delay. The council and staff have known for over 10 years that this was coming up. They've had adequate time to comply with the requirements of the LAW.
According to the original opinion of the city attorney. The council could have named itself as the commission. However, since the council already has (and has always had) the right to amend the charter (submitting it to the voters), why would the framers of section 1701 have even have put this as a requirement? I believe that it is clear that the intention of the framers was that this should be a CITIZEN's commission, NOT the city council.
Unfortunately, I will be out of town for this meeting, but will be following it closely. Let's see what the council is trying to do. Will they follow our laws or will they try and pull something over on us?
Disclosure: I have applied to be on the Charter Review Commission so have been following its progress closely.