Cassity: Charter would give us more control

August 30, 2012|By Chuck Cassity

On the heels of my most recent column, which shined a Klieg light on Sacramento's wretched excesses of late, I've been looking around for ways to continue beating that figurative drum to the potential benefit of our citizenry.

Regardless of one's political persuasions, you have to admit that things in our once-Golden State are more than a little bit tarnished.

It seems that the worse things get in Sacramento, the more the folks up there turn their focus on cities, such as ours, for financial relief. They've already done it once. There's no reason to think they won't do it again. I think it can be reasonably stated that we should keep our hands on our wallets, lest Gov. Jerry Brown and Co. make another raid on our coffers.


It's for that reason that I've taken a heightened interest in this whole Costa Mesa charter debate. Accusations and condemnations are banging around like a BB in a boxcar among the various parties in this dust-up.

The current City Council majority and some running for the three open seats in November state that they wish to adopt a charter because doing so would give us more local control and greater sovereignty, would save us millions of dollars, due to the ability to outsource expensive services, and would prevent future increases in public employee pensions without a vote of We, The People.

The opposing triumvirate of council hopefuls says that charter proponents are only involved in a power grab and cannot be trusted to manage our fair city under charter rules. They say that a charter would permit "no-bid contracts" and the hiring of cheap, substandard labor. They say passing the charter would pave the way for tax increases, and permit favoritism, cronyism and corruption.

Clearly, they cannot both be right.

So, to find out for myself the truth about all of this, I went to and downloaded the charter. The first thing that surprised me was its length. Ten pages, only. But then again, it's a charter, not a novel.

I was next surprised by how simple and straightforward it is. Every city in California, including Costa Mesa, is a general law city unless it chooses to adopt a charter. And the majority of Costa Mesa's charter language continues to require us to operate the same as we have up until now.

The only major changes have to do with the increased ability to more efficiently utilize our municipal workforce and the opportunity to hire experienced, qualified labor at other than so-called prevailing (union) wages.

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