These were the best of city charters and the worst of city charters. San Marcos, Bell and all others, now including Oceanside. San Marcos shines with its intelligent use of its charter while Bell and San Diego have proven that citizen oversight of their charters was sorely missed.
With the advent of Bell’s City Council and top administrators fattening their salaries and retirement benefits, San Diego’s council leading them into near bankruptcy and a gambling Vista councilman that writes bad checks, should we in Oceanside be leery of our new charter and City Council members who have a propensity to vote as a bloc?
I would say Oceanside citizens should maintain a very close eye on a charter written haste paste, in a back room by the Building Industry Association under the watchful eye of Jack Feller and Jerry Kern. Especially now that the twosome try to take the bloc control of council with their handpicked city treasurer and fellow Lincoln Club power broker.
Definite advantages of charters like not paying prevailing wage on nongovernment funded projects could be outweighed by the many negatives of a charter, for example Bell and San Diego. If our charter would have been presented to voters after going through citizen workshops and city administration input, I would feel a lot more comfortable with it.
But it didn’t! Jack and Jerry basically had the BIA write it so the charter was more favorable for developers. As we come to another election, I feel it would be wise for the council to allow citizen input on some additions to our charter later reviewed by our city manager and attorney. Then the citizens can vote to put the appropriate additions in our charter. Some additions we could add to our charter to protect us from any present and future City Council majority abuses:
1. Council may not vote to increase their salary or benefits without taking it to a scheduled general election.
2. The city manager and attorney can not be fired by a simple 3-2 majority. The reason for this is both of these positions are at the mercy of a 3-2 council bloc. If either position is corrupt or inept no council member will protect them.
3. Council members must excuse themselves from voting when they have received more than $250 campaign contributions from parties involved in a project a year prior to that project coming up for council approval. This would include campaign donations from individuals, unions, PAC’s, businesses and corporations. Tough for citizens to sway a council members vote after they have received thousands of dollars from special interest donors.
4. Council may not put an item up for voter approval in a general election with a simple 3-2 majority.
5. Zoning changes to the current General Plan can not be approved by the Planning Commission and require a 4-1 vote or greater for approval by the council.
6. Changes to the charter must be made only in scheduled general elections after citizen, city manager and city attorney review.
If Oceanside citizens want to keep our government honest and avoid 3-2 special interest blocs from controlling our city operations, please contact all the council members and request citizen input to address additions needed for our new charter to protect the citizens from current and future council manipulations. We can get the additions to the charter in the upcoming general election with no additional costs.
Rick Kratcoski is an Oceanside citizen trying to keep Oceanside City Council transparent and working for the citizens and not special interests.