Saturday, October 27, 2012

Measure U: Conflicts of interest, Youth and Family Master Plan, Absentees, Vacancies

Changes to Conflicts of Interest

This one was actually mistated in the Daily Bulletin's editorial of endorsement. The DB stated that it would change the amount that a person or business could contribute to a candidate from $500 to $1000. It was actually from $250 to $500 to bring our charter into synchronization with what state election law allows. It also changed the conflict of interest to go from a councilperson not being able to vote on an item if a contributor of $1,000 during their 4 year term of office, to one-year from the time such contributions were made.

Inclusion of Youth and Family Master Plan

The language of the ordinance that created the Youth and Family Master Plan has been added to the charter. The commission felt that this vital function should not be left to the council to decide if it should continue or be disbanded, but that it should be included in the charter which would require a vote of the citizens to make changes to.

 Council Absentees

In the current charter a councilmember may be absent up to thirty consecutive days. This will not change. The charter then goes on to say that the with content of a majority or a quorum of the council, this can be extended to 60 days. Then it says that with a consent of the majority of a quorum, that any member may be absent for a longer duration. The change suggested is that absences be for 30 days and must be renewed every 30 days. Under the current charter, an excused absence can be made for any extended period of time without review. This was last used with the illness of former Mayor Eddie Cortez, who was absent for many months. The commission felt that an absence means that an area of the city's voice is not heard and that the citizens need to be represented so for the council to determine that an area of the city can go unrepresented for an extended period of time should certainly at least be reviewed on a periodic basis, giving the citizen's a chance to weigh in on their representation.

Filling of Council Vacancies

The current charter, in discussion of the filling of council vacancies, discusses the appointment of a "qualified" person. The Charter Review Commission added language which states that a qualified person shall be defined as an individual who resides in the district and makes an application outlining their qualification. It also adds that a Councilmember who resigned from the council shall not be considered to fill their own vacancy.

If time permits, there will be one more in this series on the changes to the way that the Charter Commission is formed and its operation.

Whether you agree or disagree with any parts of the proposed charter amendment, please consider that it is one whole. We will either have a new charter which brings our city's prime law into the 21st century, or continue with a Charter that is out dated and in some areas out of compliance with California law.

Which ever way you choose, VOTE on November 6.

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