I want to thank everyone for their comments and thoughts. Here are my responses on some of the topics:
RE: Public Participation
The public does participate and is heavily involved in the process. The public (voters) make the final decisions on any City Charter changes and anyone running for elected office. We can only propose, they decide.
The Charter Review Committee has open public meetings and has already held eight community forums throughout the city to hear public comment and suggestions and we are still meeting on Thursday nights in Balboa Park. The schedule and contact information can be found on the city website.
RE: Strong Mayor- Council Permanent Vote
I support of the idea of giving the voters the opportunity to decide if they want to make this permanent. I know I want to vote on it. The language is a bit verbose and I did want to make it shorter but I was in the minority on the subcommittee. In the end, I did support it because the end goal is the same.
If this makes it to the ballot there will have been two public votes on this issue:
2. June or November 2008 to make it permanent
Two public votes on this one topic seems fair and democratic to me.
RE: Expanding the City Council to 11
As I mentioned before, we have had eight since 1965 and the city has almost doubled in population. Both the 1989 Charter Review Commission and the Year 2000 Redistricting Commission recommended expanding the City Council. Expanding the City Council and increasing representation and diversity is the right thing to do in my opinion.
Originally, I was the only member of the subcommittee, of the Charter Review Committee, that advocated for 11. However, it was during our series of public meetings that we heard comments from the public that nine was not enough and people suggested greater representation. Thus, when the subcommittee reconvened we changed our recommendation to 11 in response to public comments from the public forums.
RE: Districts vs. At-Large
Almost 20 years ago San Diego voters adopted the district-only system for electing our City Council.
Our subcommittee did briefly (very briefly) discuss the concept of at-large districts for the expanded seats, but not going back to the at-large system for the entire council. There are cities that have a two-tier council with the majority of members being by district and the minority being at-large.
Some examples are Houston, Denver and Indianapolis. In the end, we recommended expanding the City Council by district since that is the tradition in San Diego.
If you feel strongly about the at-large concept feel free to attend the meetings and voice your opinion.
RE: Council Expansion Cost
Well, this is a “cash strapped” city that can find how many tens of millions of dollars for financial consultants and lawsuits? But we can’t find (or don’t want to spend) $1-3 million for increased representation and participation for the neighborhoods and the public?!?!?! Democracy isn’t cheap but it’s worth it.
RE: What’s the Rush?
The 2010 clock is ticking. If things waited until right before 2010, people would criticize that the process is being rushed and that it should have been done sooner. Since it is happening now people are criticizing that the process is being rushed and premature. People will be unhappy either way. In the end somebody needs to do something. I would rather be proactive instead of reactive.
RE: Mayor, or staff, at Council
I’ve been to City Council meetings. The mayor does attend council meetings on occasion and the mayor’s staff does attend as far as I have seen. Now what did change is that before the mayor and a specific administrator actually had to sit at council in a specific seat all the time. So that is different, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there and listening to what is being said.
However, if that isn’t enough some suggestions would be welcomed. I will say that I am against making the mayor part of the Council again so that the mayor has to attend meetings.
RE: City Attorney
I am not on the subcommittee that is looking at that issue. Since our committee is focused on the 50 percent that is governmental structure I am interested to see if there is in fact a problem with the structure of the office or is it just a political issue due to the personalities on all sides.
— ADRIAN KWIATKOWSKI