Still Have Not Heard A Specific, Verified Reason For A Charter

This letter to the editor appeared in both The Current and The Orange County Register this week.  We bring it to you for free, thanks to the author, Charlie Mooney. 

COSTA MESA, Charles Mooney: The April 25 article by Mike Reicher, “Costa Mesa closer to process in adopting city charter” [Local], reported on the Costa Mesa City Council Study Session on the question: Should Costa Mesa pursue becoming a charter city?  (Subscribers only)
However, some points needed more emphasis, and some were missed. Remarkably, there were no specific, verified and compelling reasons provided that justified why Costa Mesa needs a charter.

The article reported the vague claim made by some that a charter would offer more control over city affairs. However, missed was the reminder that this frequently used mantra has never come with any specifics that explain how this would improve city governance.

If the council majority revealed their specific reasons for needing more control, we might just find that their need is just for more of control’s tricky synonym, “power,” and this power being over the residents so that the council majority can pursue their own agenda.

Reicher reported Mayor Jim Righeimer’s assumption that the only error in the previously defeated charter was that he didn’t involve the residents enough, hence his suggestion now for a committee of residents to draft the new charter. However, in addition to not involving the residents enough, the article missed mentioning that the previous charter had 15 or more significant flaws that also contributed to its defeat.

Lastly, the majority council rejected the proposal for an elected charter commission and instead opted for an appointed committee to draft the charter. Underemphasized in the article was that this option, unlike an elected commission, unfortunately, allows the council majority to control the selection of the majority of committee members and the final content of the proposed charter.

If the Costa Mesa council majority insists on pursuing an unjustified charter, it should use an elected charter commission.

Charles Mooney is Vice President of CM4RG.