Updated March 11, 2012
During numerous City Council meetings, James Righeimer, supported by three other Costa Mesa City Council members, has told the citizens that no city in the last 30 years has used a charter commission to write a charter. Yet by some simple investigation, looking only at the charters that have been voted on in the last 15 years, in 10 of the 34 cities a charter commission or committee has written the charter that was provided to the council for a public vote. Those cities were
El Centro 2009
Port Hueneme 1996
San Ramon 1997
Santa Maria 2000
(see additional note 1 below)
This research result was reported to the Council at its January 17, 2012 meeting. Suddenly Mr. Righeimer came up with a new rationale for placing his draft of the proposed charter on the June ballot. He expressed a concern that, if there were a commission, they would be intimidated by labor people, and that would be unfair to the commissioners. He then referred to Elk Grove, which had a charter commission who took 2 ½ years, and whose members, he claimed, were intimidated, had their integrity impugned, and were even followed out to their cars by opponents of the charter.
The truth is that the Elk Grove Charter Commission completed its work and, in its final report of January 2010, mentioned pressure only from the council, not from any other source. The Elk Grove City Council, without explaining its reasons, chose not to place the Commission-written charter on the ballot.
Also at the same January 17, 2012 Costa Mesa City Council meeting, it was stated that one of the justifications for the Charter was to be able to outsource various jobs currently done by City employees, specifically street sweeping. It was claimed that Costa Mesa could not outsource street sweeping because it was a general law city and that Newport Beach (a charter city) could outsource any city service they wanted. There was even a comment implying the state Attorney General would not let Costa Mesa outsource its street sweeping.
Yet the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, a general law city, outsources almost all city services, including fire, police and, yes, street sweeping, as confirmed with the city manager and the Dept. of Public Works of that city. So, why can Rancho Palos Verdes outsource any service they want to, but it is claimed that Costa Mesa (also a general law city) cannot? (see additional note 2 below)
Once again, the Costa Mesa supporters of the Righeimer charter tell us things that seem plausible but, with a little research, turn out to be nothing more than more untruths to gain support for a hastily conceived and executed Charter.
Additional note 1: even Mr. Righeimer now agrees that some cities have used commissions/committees to produce charters as seen in his address from the dais on March 6th 2012, (3:30:54-59 on the archived tape) where he stated that of the last 8 cities that have done charters, 3 of those cities used committees and 5 did not.
Additional note 2: Per the general counsel of the California League of Cities, Patrick Whitnell as reported in the OC Register: “General law cities like Costa Mesa aren’t historically limited in their ability to contract services, Whitnell said.” and reconfirmed comments per the City Manager of Rancho Palos Verdes, they can outsource to anyone they want and their street sweeping services are provided by a private company not a municipality.