The San Bernardino League of Women Voters urges a yes vote on Measures Q and R.
Charter reform for the city of San Bernardino is long overdue. The charter is a cumbersome document that needs updating and revisions. This policy document is filled with procedures and antiquated provisions that make it difficult to govern the city effectively.
We agree with the Citizens Charter Committee that the charter should set forth guiding principles and standards, not detailed rules and procedures. These are conclusions that we have reached after studying the charter several times since we became a League in 1955. The problem with having details in the charter is that it can only be changed by a vote of the people, which makes it difficult to deal with the challenges of changing conditions that are certain to happen over time.
Here are the facts:
Measure Q removes Section 186 regarding salaries of safety employees and replaces it with a short and simple statement about how the salaries would be determined.
The new section would affirm that public safety is the highest priority of the city and it leaves the procedure for paying safety employees the same as is used for all other city employees — collective bargaining. Negotiators from both sides would meet and determine the negotiation process. Basing the salaries on an average paid by cities of a similar size does not take into consideration that they may be very different in personal income, property tax revenue and property values, for example.
In addition, eliminating the many pages of details in the current Section 186 leaves room for the negotiators to reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable to both the employees and the city. Details deemed to be necessary could be placed in ordinances or resolutions that can be changed by a vote of the council rather than to have to go to the voters to be changed. Residents would have an opportunity to be involved in that process.
Second, Measure R is a proposed revision of Section 254 relating to dismissal of city employees. Under the present section, if a city employee has been discharged after an appropriate civil service hearing, the employee continues to be paid while he or she is appealing that decision. The new section eliminates payment during the appeal process, and if the employee’s appeal is successful, any pay accrued during the appeal will be paid to the employee. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the city will not have had to pay additional funds for the time the employee was not working for the city.
On Nov. 4, you, the voters, have an opportunity to vote on two proposals that can make a big difference in San Bernardino. We hope you will vote yes on Q and R.