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Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Jim Madaffer have both said they don’t want voters to clarify the city attorney’s role in the 2008 election. That’s despite the claim by both men that the ambiguity has hindered the city’s business.

But Council President Scott Peters said at his weekly press briefing this afternoon that he’s still hopeful the voters will answer that question when they consider other charter changes next year.

“I would not say it’s dead,” said Peters, who supports the Charter Review Committee’s suggestion to revise city bylaws to clearly state that the City Council is the city attorney’s client.

Aguirre, on the other hand, says he serves the people of San Diego and not the mayor and council who run the city. Sanders, Peters and Madaffer, claim they can’t seek legal advice from the City Attorney’s Office because Aguirre won’t work with city officials in traditional attorney-client relationship.

But the balking by Sanders and Madaffer will make it much more difficult for Peters to prevail on this issue.

Without Madaffer, there’s one less crucial vote that will be needed to place the issue on the ballot in June, when several other issues the Charter Review Committee studied might be placed in front of voters. If Madaffer — one of Aguirre’s staunchest critics — avoids the fight, it’s not likely council members who are more conciliatory to the city attorney would go along neither.

Without Sanders, the issue is devoid of a high-profile spokesman that would be needed to prod voter support for an issue Aguirre would fight tenaciously.

Still, Peters remains optimistic about that change and others for the upcoming ballot, including the extension of the strong-mayor form of government past its 2010 expiration date.

“Nothing’s dead. Especially not [the attorney] issue,” he said.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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