Viewpoint

Don’t give Grover council more power

November 2, 2012 

Three out of five Grover Beach City Council members (with Mayor John Shoals and Councilwoman Phyllis Molnar dissenting) have put Measure I-12 on the Nov. 6 ballot to change our city from its current status as a general law city to a charter city.

A general law city operates under the laws of California, and its activities are supervised by the state. A charter city grants the city council supreme authority over “municipal affairs,” greatly increasing the council’s powers, while reducing accountability to local residents. Measure I-12 is a major change, equivalent to rewriting our city’s constitution.

No wonder it is being pushed by politicians and not by citizens. It affects the current council and all future councils. Do we really want to give more power to politicians?

It is important to note that a number of California charter cities, including Bell, San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo have declared bankruptcy or are considering bankruptcy in part because of this consolidation of power and lack of accountability.

The change to charter city is a bad idea because:

• It gives more power to politicians. Charter status releases officials from state supervision. Is this what we want?

• It allows new taxes and higher fees. Charter cities have increased abilities to levy taxes and fees.

• It allows deficit spending. Charter cities don’t have to balance their budgets, as do general law cities.

• It allows higher council pay. Proponents claim they will abide by state pay rules, but there’s more to the story.

• It allows no-bid contracts. Just think of the possibilities when the city can grant contracts without competitive bidding!

• It has hidden costs. There are conversion costs, litigation is frequent and future adjustments to the charter are expensive.

• It allows the council to change zoning. It can ignore the city’s general plan.

• It’s not necessary.

We cannot find any pressing reason to make this change at this time.

A new report from the Los Angeles County grand jury has found that many charter cities face major problems, including lacking strategic planning, spotty financial controls and few methods of measuring whether they are reaching goals. (The grand jury’s report is available at http://grandjury.co.la.ca.us /gjreports.html)

We encourage you to spend some time reading the information we have assembled on our website at www.protectgrover   beach.com  .

We believe that the more that you learn about charter cities, you’ll agree that it shifts power into the hands of a few politicians without the checks and balances that we currently have.

Vote “no” on Grover Beach Measure I-12!

Walt French is a resident of Grover Beach. Steve Weiner is executive secretary-treasurer for the Tri-Counties Building & Construction Trades Council.

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