Committee votes to send proposed charter to council

After 10 months, the panel that has been tasked with rewriting guidelines for city government is ready for the next step.

March 13, 2014|By Bradley Zint

Most members of the Costa Mesa Charter Committee gave a thumbs-up Wednesday night to sending the draft of the charter they created to the City Council for further review.

The 13-member committee met about 15 times over 10 months, debating all the way to make the six-page, constitution-like document a reality. After the council reviews and possibly alters the document, voters will probably get a chance to accept or deny it at the ballot box in November.

On Wednesday, 10 of the charter committee members found the paper satisfactory enough to send it on. Committee member Harold Weitzberg dissented; members Mary Ann O'Connell and Bill Fancher were absent.


The charter tackles a variety of city functions, some simple — keeping a five-member council and the name Costa Mesa, for instance — and others more complex, such as outsourcing, guidelines for public-works contracting and transparency in labor negotiations.

On labor negotiations, the proposed charter strengthens the already-approved COIN ordinance, or Civic Openness in Negotiations. The ordinance, adopted by the council in 2012, seeks to add transparency to the process of negotatiating with city employee unions, including making public each side's proposals and financial analyses.

On public contracting, the document has city staffers utilizing the Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act and remaining in accordance with state and federal contracting procedures. City staff have said it avoids so-called no-bid contracts for public-works projects costing more than $1,000.

Committee member Brett Eckles called the document a collection of "opinions, ideas and facts backed up by substance."

Weitzberg expressed concern that the group was rushing the charter-creation process and working against an arbitrary deadline. Since the committee's inception in June, he also questioned the city's need for a charter and consistently raised concerns that its contents were already in place elsewhere in city law.

One last-minute change to the document sought to avoid the appearance of a boost in council members' pay. Despite already debating and reaching a majority vote on the matter, the committee voted to strike the language that said council members receive a monthly stipend of $2,100, with optional benefits, such as health care, deducted from that amount.

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