This past week the San Bernardino City Council moved by a 4-3 vote to place on the November ballot an item for voters to decide on repealing Section 186 and parts of the civil service code out of the charter. I watched the meeting over public television and was impressed by several members from the public who made presentations before the council to persuade them to take this action. I want to offer Dennis Baxter as an example of how one should present before any government body. Others who made great presentations and are proponents for change were Dr. Thomas Pierce and Gloria Macias Harrison and over the course of the next few weeks, I will publish their remarks. Baxter served on the Charter Reform Committee that offered five suggestions to the council for consideration. These are his prepared remarks:
I’m Dennis Baxter. I live in the City of San Bernardino. Honorable Mayor and Honorable City Council Members, I stand before you as an appointed member of the Volunteers Citizen’s Charter Review Committee.
For those of you who may have attended or saw our Committee in action, I must say we had much thought-provoking discussion as well as testimony from citizens, community activists, and members of public employee bargaining units.
With long term background in Broadcasting and the Advertising Industry, I am very aware of positioning a proposal for public consumption. At the Committee level, I advocated for three or fewer items to be put to the voters.
An entire Doctoral Thesis could be written on the perception of people and how much information they can digest before they reach a point of inability to reach a decision, also known as voter fatigue. In fact opponents of any of the proposed ballot items would, I believe prefer to see more items, in order to confuse the electorate with dissemination of misleading information, or non-facts.
As a Committee member I stand here tonight to say congratulations on eating this elephant one bite at a time. You now have the choice of combining the language of Charter amendment 186 and 254 as one ballot item…or bifurcating them into two items. I urge you to place them on the ballot as two separate items so the voters will have a real opportunity to digest and understand each item separately and independently. Both of these items deal with equality and fairness.
As a long-time advocate of racial and gender equality, I also support employment equality. Both Charter amendments in San Bernardino that are before you tonight correct outdated notions that a class of employee should be treated differently than another.
Collective bargaining at the Union level is THE great leveler for all San Bernardino City employees and the true message voters want to know, and have a right to know!
Support our Police, Fire, Refuse, Operating Engineers and ALL employees in the City. Putting these two items on the ballot as separate measures give our voters in the City their right to choose and make a determination as to the future of our City.
I urge you to put these two items on the ballot, individually, and the Charter Committee can move forward with the duties we have before us. This City has a great heart, but like any healthy heart, the plaque and bad cholesterol in the arteries needs to be stripped away. Bankruptcy may not be a heart attack, but it’s a real and certain wake-up call, and some of the advertising you will be presented is nothing more than a big juicy load of trans fats that we learned a long time ago, may look real good, and may taste real good, but can surely kill you in the end! Thank you all very much!