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Community Commentary: Why I will vote "no" on Measure V

October 08, 2010|By Mark Tabbert

On Nov. 2, Newport Beach voters will have before them a ballot measure, Measure V, which amends our City Charter. Measure V is a patchwork of 15 significant changes to the charter, all rolled into one measure.

Voters, who have attended local candidate forums around the city this election season, have heard repeatedly from the city attorney and City Council members to vote for the measure.

But what voters have not heard is why a bunch of unrelated changes have been lumped together for a single yes or no vote. Several of the changes are complex and would be controversial if allowed to stand on their own. The number of issues is so large that no clear explanation of what is being voted on is available in the sample ballot.

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In the past, changes to the charter have always been voted on individually. We also are not told that several of the changes included in Measure V, have been rejected in the past, when they did stand alone on their own merit.

Measure V is presented to voters as "just housecleaning" and as "important charter reform." But which is it?

The centerpiece issue, which is always touted, is that Measure V closes Proposition 13 loopholes, but even this selling point is more complicated than proponents explain. This fix removes the council's authority to impose taxes, which may be necessary to fund employee pensions.

The Charter Update Commission itself decided at its Feb. 16 meeting that this provision should be left intact because it was a solemn obligation the city had committed to honor, properly "grandfathered" in under the language of Proposition 13. Yet individual members reversed themselves, with little opportunity for public input, on the night the council formulated the ballot language.

The proposal to "amend Civil Service System" completely scraps the current voter-approved system leaving only the Civil Service Board as a body to hear employee complaints. During Update Commission meetings, members were repeatedly told that a replacement Civil Service ordinance would be available in time for voters to compare it to the one they are being asked to repeal, yet none has appeared.

The proposal to "simplify franchise processes" completely nullifies the existing charter protections requiring public notice and hearings, adding language that leaves the council free to establish whatever alternative procedures it desires.

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