San Bernardino Fills In Charter Reform Committee With Nine Members

(April 2)  Members of the San Bernardino City Council have appointed and confirmed  nine members of the city’s newly-created charter reform committee.
All those appointed to the panel are men. They have been tasked with studying the city’s current charter and recommending possible changes to it so those proposed amendments can be placed before city residents for a citywide vote in November.
San Bernardino is a charter city as opposed to a general law city. Its charter and amendments thereto, per state law, are approved by the city’s voters. Provisions put into the charter by means of a citywide vote over a decade ago require that the city’s public safety employees – firefighters and police officers – be paid on a scale equal to the average pay of police officers and firefighters in ten similarly sized California cities.
San Bernardino has been beset with financial difficulties that culminated in the city’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2012. Former mayor Patrick Morris has maintained that a major factor in the city’s fiscal deterioration is excessive salaries and benefits provided to city employees and retirees. Carey Davis, an accountant by profession and a political ally to Morris, succeeded Morris last month after defeating Wendy McCammack, a former councilwoman who has long championed generous pay increases for municipal safety employees.
As one of his first acts in office, Davis called for the creation of a municipal commission to consider charter changes, suggesting that the requirement that police and fire officers be provided with raises based on salaries given to their counterparts in cities free of the financial challenges San Bernardino faces should be done away with. That move failed when it was pointed out that a municipal commission cannot be formed without prior voter approval. The proposal was adjusted to allow the creation of a citizens committee to review the city charter.
While the committee’s recommendations are by no means pre-ordained, it is anticipated that the members will at the very least consider the Morris/Davis suggestions with regard to undoing the mandate that the city’s safety employees remain well abreast of their municipal counterparts elsewhere with regard to compensation.
The resolution that called for the creation of the committee that was passed by the city council on March 17 delineated that each of the council’s seven members would choose one registered voter from their respective wards to serve on the committee and Davis would get two appointments to the panel, including one culled from the city’s business community.
This week it was revealed that Ward 1 Councilwoman Virginia Marquez had selected Casey Daily for the committee, Ward 2 Councilman Benito Barrios  chose Dennis Baxter, Ward 3 Councilman John Valdivia appointed Gary Walbourne,  Ward 4 Councilman Fred Shorett selected Hillel Cohn, Ward 5 Councilman Henry Nickel chose Michael Craft, Ward 6 Councilman Rikke Van Johnson brought in Hardy Brown and Ward 7 Councilman James Mulvill tapped Philip Savage.  Davis selected Thomas Pierce and Dan Carlone.
The next order of business is for the city to find and retain a consultant highly conversant with city charters who can advise the committee and the city council with regard to how the charter can be changed.
The committee must meet a May 19 deadline to deliver their recommendations so language in any proposed amendments can be delivered to the registrar of voters office in time to include the charter amendments on the November ballot.

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