During the year of 1964 a movement in the Deep South called “Freedom Summer” was launched to register Black citizens to vote. Thousands of civil rights activists, many of them white college students from the North, descended on Mississippi and other Southern states to try to end the long-time political disenfranchisement of African Americans in the region.
In 1964, three young men, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, were lynched, murdered, and assassinated seeking to secure the right to vote for all citizens of the United States. One was beaten, castrated, and murdered. One was shot and buried alive. These brutal acts were planned, premeditated slaughter. All were buried in brutal, muddy, man-made graves.
The innocent blood of these young freedom fighters still cry out from the ground today saying register, vote, participate and help somebody else. But the cost that was paid fifty years ago seems to fall on deaf ears today, especially here in the City of San Bernardino where less than 15% of the registered voters participate in the electoral process and Special Interest Groups seek to serve only themselves.
As the City of San Bernardino wrestles with bankruptcy staring deeply into the abyss, Special Interest Groups made up of police and fire employees go on as if the City’s finances are being supported by Fort Knox. They continue to hang their hat on Charter Section 186, which is an unsustainable antiquated provision of the Charter.
Presently under Charter Section 186 up to 40 other cities are surveyed annually to determine what San Bernardino will pay for salaries to public safety. San Bernardino is the only City in the State that utilizes a formula to set public safety salaries. The surveyed cities are similar in size with population between 100,000 and 250.000, but not similar in median income. All of them are well above $39,097 the median income of San Bernardino (e.g. Irvine $92,663).
The City of San Bernardino, which can barely pave streets and fix potholes, has to monitor up to forty other cities to stay abreast of salary changes in public safety. If two of these cities gave raises mid-year during their fiscal budget, then salaries in San Bernardino would have to be adjusted to reflect raises given by other municipalities. With the passing of Measure Q on November 4th all San Bernardino employee salaries will be set through collective bargaining, just like the other 481 Cities in the State.
The City of San Bernardino today is crying out for freedom from a Charter Section that continues to hold its future in bondage with the help of self-serving Special Interest Groups. If you have the right to vote please use it. Young and old, rich and poor, you and I, by bus, car or on foot – we must get to the polls to cast our vote for Yes on Measure Q on or before November 4th for the future of our community.