Friday, October 15, 2010

Charter Review Meeting Wednesday Oct. 20

When I was appointed to the Charter Review Commission, I promised that I would periodically give you updates as to what is going on. While it's now been over 5 months since our first meeting, we're still in the process of gathering information and developing ideas. That is about to change.

As a recap, the Charter Review Commission is charged with reviewing the city's charter and coming up with an amended charter (if needed) to present to the voters at a future election. Whatever comes out of the commission will be placed on a future ballot and the voters will decide if they want whatever comes out of the commission. The commission has 1 year to come up with such a document. (April 2010)

The 15 member commission has been meeting both as a group and in smaller subcommittees to formulate such a document. Each subcommittee is responsible for doing the research and coming up with plans that will be put forward to the entire commission for possible inclusion in the final document.

The first subcommittee recommendation was made at last month's meeting. This one dealt with proposed changes to Article XVII, which created the charter review commission. Because of the drama that surrounded the formation of the current commission, it was felt that certain things, like the number of commissioners and how they are chosen, should be codified within the charter itself. No action was taken on this item, whether to approve or not, and it was held over to the next meeting, which is Wednesday.

All sections of the charter were assigned to subcommittees, with the exception of Article IV, which deals with elective offices, the city council, how vacancies are handled, districts, and compensation and expenses. You can read the charter HERE (pdf file).  Because this is such an important issue, it was decided that the entire commission would take it up as a group instead of going to subcommittees. This Wednesday's meeting is when that will occur. It is anticipated that we will be getting a lot of public input, especially from those who are pushing for a new plan for district elections. To accommodate anticipated public input, the meeting will be held at the Ganesha Park Community Center at 7:00 pm.

If you have input on how you feel districts elections should be held, or if you don't want districts at all, or if you feel that we should have more or fewer council seats or anything else regarding Article IV, please be sure to attend the meeting and let us know. We value your input.

Charter Review Commission
Wednesday, October 20
7:00 pm
Ganesha Park Community Center
1575 North White Avenue, Pomona
Some of the issues that are currently being discussed in the subcommittees include the formation of an Ethics Commission, a Police Commission, and a wide variety of minor and major adjustments to the current Charter. The Commission meets the  4th Wednesday of each month, usually in the Council Chambers annex (to the south of the council chambers where the council usually holds their closed session meetings). Because of theIt's a Brown Act Commission so the public is always welcome.


Ed said...

Here's a suggestion: How about eliminating the pensions for Council members? By offering pensions, we've essentially incentivized being a placeholder. At the Council level we need to rotate people with new ideas and pensions work counter to that goal.

Let's be honest, there is a clear distinction between the city employees who deserve pensions/retirement benefits and the council members who are just volunteers.

John Clifford said...

Yes, paid volunteers doing part-time work.

Good idea. If it doesn't come up in public comment, I'll certainly look toward adding it as a discussion item.

Anonymous said...

I agree. No pensions. This not a full time job and does not require a pension. However, a small salary and a max on expenses. And all public pay must be available on the internet at the Pomona city website.

Anonymous said...

How about term limits, say maximum of 3 terms in council? This should encourage "new blood" in city council.

I completely agree with getting rid of pensions for council members.

Lastly, how about review of city employee salaries and benefits to avoid the fraud that can occur (like in the City of Bell). The citizens commission should reviews the salaries of the highest paid city employees and be able to reduce salaries and/or reject pay increases.

John Clifford said...

Term limits might be an interesting idea. I'll bring it up at the next meeting.

As for a review of the salaries, that is not in the purview of the charter commission. What we're working on is akin to the city's constitution. However, there is a subcommittee working on the establishment of a city ethics commission. If such a commission were formed, it would probably have as one of its duties just such reviews. Since I'm on the ethics subcommittee, I can talk about the work of the committee until it comes before the full commission. I'll certainly let everyone know when that comes up.

gilman said...

Personally, I would love to see the city do away with districts. While I appreciate the original intent, it has simply failed. Instead of getting the best available candidates to run for office, we are saddled with many ineffective, if not totally unqualified, representatives.
Would also put some teeth into the residency requirements, including a clear and concise definition along with requiring candidates to sign a statement of residency under penalty of perjury.
just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I agree in preserving districts in order to make sure that all of Pomona is represented on city council. Actually, I think that the school board needs to be split up into districts. But, I do agree with term limits. We need change, and keep the same people in office does not allow Pomona to progress.

John Clifford said...

Both term limits and districts came up at last night's Commission meeting. Neither proposal had any traction with the group. Term limits were not viewed as successful at the state level and since there is already a petition for a charter amendment to change districts to city-wide voting that looks like it will qualify, the commission didn't want to have conflicting proposals on the ballot, particularly since it is likely that both proposals would be on the same 2012 ballot.