In an ongoing series to publish remarks made by concerned citizens of San Bernardino, regarding placing on the November ballot an item for voters to vote on repealing Section 186 and parts of the civil service code out of the charter, Dr. Tom Pierce, Economic Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and a member of the San Bernardino City Charter Review Committee made the following remarks before the mayor and city council to support placing Section 186 on the ballot for the voters to repeal or not. The council, by a four to three vote, will place the issue on the ballot this November election.
Good evening, Mayor Davis and Council members.
My name is Tom Pierce. I’ve lived and worked in San Bernardino since 1976. I’m an economics professor at Cal State, San Bernardino.
I’m also a member of the Citizens’ Charter Review Committee that Council appointed a few months ago, and which made recommendations to you in May about possible changes to the charter.
I’m here tonight to comment on Section 186.
The recommended change to Section 186 is important, in my opinion, for two reasons:
(1) it would have the effect of determining compensation of all unionized city employees (public safety and non-public safety alike) by Council resolution, after collective bargaining; and
(2) the recommended change would enhance Council‘s ability to carry out effectively its most important responsibility – that is, managing the City’s budget in a way that results in a level of public services that adds to the quality of life of San Bernardino residents.
That goal hasn’t been achieved in a long time and, in my opinion, part of the problem is the way section 186 is currently worded. In effect, it gives Council no control over more than half of the budget it’s supposed to be managing.
In essence, year after year Council tries to manage the budget with one hand tied behind its back. That approach hasn’t worked – simply driving around town provides ample evidence of that. It is no wonder that no other city in the state, besides San Bernardino, uses an automatic, 186-like mechanism to determine public safety salaries.
In contrast, the proposed amendment to Section 186, in combination with your hard work as the City’s budget-makers, would give Council a fighting chance of using the City’s tax dollars in ways that provide residents the quality and level of services they deserve – public safety, of course, but also parks & rec, libraries, street maintenance, and so on. That is, the kinds of things that make people proud of the town they live in.
As a City, we can either continue doing things the way we’ve been doing them, or we can turn the page and start moving forward. Please give the citizens of San Bernardino the chance to show that they want to start moving forward as a community, by giving them the opportunity to go to the polls in November and vote on this important matter.