Readers of the Los Angeles Times on Sunday were treated to a blistering criticism of San Diego’s contentious constitutional changes, courtesy of UCSD political science professor Steve Erie and the League of Women Voters vice president Norma Damashek.
The rush has turned the city’s approach to charter reform into a civic sham. Orchestrated by the mayor’s office, with help from the downtown business and civic establishment, the effort seeks to turn back the political clock and marginalize progressive, labor, environmental and community groups that have only recently gained clout in San Diego government.
And the punch:
The result is a stacked-deck committee, top-heavy with downtown lawyers and lobbyists. There are no labor, environmental or good-government representatives on the panel despite Sanders’ promise to make the committee broadly representative. And in a city with a large and rapidly growing Latino population, there are no Latinos on the committee.
The mayor’s office has controlled the review process from the get-go. Calling for “clarification and fine-tuning” of the strong-mayor experiment, Sanders’ staff wrote the agenda. They lobbied hard for the mayor’s positions and controlled the charter consultant. The mayor’s office scheduled only two community forums to discuss the recommended charter changes. But embarrassed by sharp criticism from labor, environmental and good-government representatives, the committee was forced to hold additional neighborhood meetings, though the public input did not influence the final set of recommendations.
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