When I was asked several months ago by Councilmember Rikke Van Johnson to serve on the San Bernardino City Charter Review Committee, I accepted his request mainly because of its short duration. After the election it was determined that a longer commitment would be required. With my medical condition, I couldn’t serve. So I resigned from the committee.
However, resigning from the committee did not mean I would refrain from having an opinion or not offering my thoughts to the public.
I have had some time to reflect on my brief time spent with some dedicated and committed citizens to point our city in a positive direction and one we can all be proud of. I have followed the committee and have done some research on cities in California in comparison to San Bernardino.
I have concluded that the best course of action is adopting a new general law charter which would have a fulltime mayor as a leader for the city but no management duties of any city departments. The authority would come from the ability to offer guidance with influence to the council and city manager. The position would still preside over the council meetings with veto power over 4-3 votes of the council.
The council would still carry legislative power and the hiring authority of the city manager. This position would manage the affairs of the city as approved by the council minimizing the politicking of ‘I want this for my ward’ politics.
All of the hiring of department heads would rest with the city manager with the approval by the council. Now this type of charter will not solve all that ills San Bernardino because some cities under this type of charter have their share of mismanagement by city managers and councils that do not provide good direction in policy making and providing oversight management.
In some cities, the city attorney, clerk, and treasurer are appointed and this option should be considered in San Bernardino with required financial reports from the treasurer. In other words a report that follows the money.
Another thing that needs to happen in San Bernardino is political reform in campaign contributions to city elected officials seeking office.
There should be a permanent charter review committee appointed by the mayor and council.
Now the current mayor and council have their hands full with this bankruptcy but cannot neglect this very important fact facing the city.
My thoughts are with the current charter committee and I wish them the best as they struggle to offer us their very best ideas in pointing the city in the right direction.
One thing I know and that is you have some of San Bernardino’s finest and most thoughtful citizens serving on that committee. They have no ulterior motive or hidden agenda only to do good for the citizens of the city. They want the taxpayers to get their monies worth and a place where their loved ones can work, be educated, live, and thrive. So let us support their efforts and give them our opinion of what we want and will support.