It was my intent to write about the history of the San Bernardino Charter from begging to end, but to paraphrase into standard English a popular phrase: No one has time for that.  Therefore I’m going to concentrate on the lessons from Charter Reform past and skip around in time.

    Measure M failed before I was appointed as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino while I was still Staff Attorney for Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino, and I really was not involved in its proposition nor its defeat.  Therefore, most of this post is based upon research, not remembrance.

    This is an overview.  Hopefully, a more in-depth look will follow.

    Before the attempt with Measure M, the Charter was last amended on November 2, 1999 with Measure X.  The Charter Review Committee was established in early 1999.  It was chaired by attorney and later Mayoral Chief of Staff Jim Morris, and though I could not find a complete list of members, it included Dennis Baxter (later 2nd Ward Council Member) and Carl Clemons.  There were applications, and it appears the Mayor appointed the members.  A consultant was hired to facilitate the charter.

    In the minutes of the October 4, 1999 Mayor and Common Council Meeting:

    Mayor Valles discussed the Charter Review Committee indicating the committee members have been working diligently to prepare their recommendations for Charter reform. She indicated they will be coordinating with the League of Women Voters to produce a video explaining charter reform and the progress that has been made to date, with information on public participation,as well as future forums. Minutes of the Mayor and Common Council, October 4, 1999, page 4.

    Second Ward Council Member Susan Lien opined on Charter Reform in the same meeting:

    Council Member Lien stated that she pulled Agenda Item Nos. 14, 15, 16and 17 because she wanted to strongly encourage the safety unions to come forward to discuss Section 186 during the Charter Reform. Council Member Lien does not think that population is rationale for salaries.

    The Charter Review Committee held town hall meetings on May 13, 2000, May 15, 2000 at Del Vallejo Middle School and May 16, 2000 at the Feldheym Library.  A Council workshop was set for May 31, 2000.

    On January 24, 2000, May 31, 2000 and on June 8, 2000, there were Charter review workshops held with the Committee and Council.

    On June 19, 2000, the City hired two firms to review the proposed charter.

    The Mayor and Common Council again held a joint workshop with the Charter Review Committee on July 24, 2000.  The item was also discussed extensively at the Council meeting.

    Council discussed it again on July 26, 2000, in which Mayor Judith Valles said:

    “she chose to embark on the process of reviewing the City’s
    current Charter. She stated that the Charter was a very political issue during her campaign and unofficial, self-appointed Charter committees proposed that the City should have the National League of Cities model Charter. In addition, the committee considered
    that the City should have a strong manager form of government and a ceremonial Mayor. It was agreed that the best time to put the Charter on the ballot for consideration by the voters was during a time when officials were not running for election, or in November 2000. A committee was selected and consisted of individuals she
    believed were objective and some who previously served on a Charter Committee. A consultant was hired to establish the process and educate the committee as to the different forms of government and charters, and establish principles that would guide the process so that discussions were not focused on people, but on positions and
    whatever discussions took place and whatever decisions made would produce a document that would lead the City in the future. It was important to recognize what belonged in a governance document and what did not. In order for the City to really affect the change that was needed, compromises had to be made. Mayor Valles stated
    that Section 186 shall remain as it currently exists in the Charter and shall continue in full force and effect and shall sunset upon adoption and implementation of Senate Bill 402 or any other binding arbitration by the State. The Fire and Police Departments
    were included as in the original Charter. The Civil Service Board was kept intact to provide employees with impartial arbitration of all disciplinary issues and hiring handled through personnel rules of procedures, adopted by the Council, to provide the desired checks and balances. Having two departments, Human Resources and Civil
    Service, was a duplication of effort and was not efficient. Mayor Valles distributed an updated version of the Charter dated July 24, 2000, which incorporated all the recommended changes, and a “Summary of Changes,” also dated July 24, 2000. Minutes of the Mayor and Common Council, July 26, 2000, Pages 1-2.

    On August 4, 2000, the Mayor and Common Council voted to put the draft revised Charter on the November 7, 2000 ballot:

    Resolution 2000-231,Resolution 2000-232, Resolution 2000-233, Resolution 2000-247, placing the proposed charter on the consolidated special municipal election.

    The results of that election, from the SBROV:

    ADOPT NEW                             YES 11277 32.2%
    CITY CHARTER                        NO 23691 67.7%

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