The San Diego City Clerk’s Office just released the ballot arguments for three charter amendments that will go before voters in June. This is what you’ll be seeing on your ballots in the primary.

Most notable among the signors are individuals associated with San Diegans for City Hall Reform, a committee tied to Mayor Jerry Sanders that had raised significant funds and threatened to place its own initiatives on the ballot if the City Council didn’t approve acceptable ballot proposals. Bob Nelson, a member of the committee, said the committee didn’t find the initiatives perfect, but they were good enough.

Proposition A is largely a clean-up measure meant to clear any confusion left over from the privatization measure passed by voters in 2006 at Sanders’ behest. At the time, opponents of the measure said that it would leave police and firefighters vulnerable to privatization — this measure would ensure that they wouldn’t be. There is no opposition. A sampling from the statement:

Police, Fire and Lifeguard services should NOT be contracted-out to private companies. Core safety services must be protected as an essential first duty of government, performed only by persons directly accountable to the Mayor and taxpayers.

The signed supporters include Mayor Jerry Sanders, Council President Scott Peters, Fire Chief Tracy Jarman, and Police Chief William Lansdowne.

Proposition B would make sure that the extension of the strong-mayor form of government goes before voters in the June 2010 election, add one council seat if it is made permanent and increase from five to six the number the number of council votes needed to override a mayoral veto. There is no opposition. From the statement in favor:

Unless Proposition B is approved, the Strong Mayor reforms voters adopted will expire automatically — reinstating the City Manager system that led to San Diego’s financial crisis. Our elected Mayor — not appointed staff — is directly accountable to voters and taxpayers for city employee performance.

The champions of the uncontested Prop. B include businessman Ted Roth, labor leader Lorena Gonzalez, Councilman Jim Madaffer and SDSU professor emeritus Glen Sparrow.

Proposition C, on the other hand, does have some interesting opposition.

The initiative would rearrange the city’s much-maligned auditing restructure. It would separate the city auditor from the current city management structure and have the mayor nominate the auditor with council approval. The proposal would also form an audit committee comprised of two council members and three members of the public. It would also make the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, created at the onset of the strong-mayor experiment, permanent.

Its supporters include retired Judge James Milliken and John Davies, Sanders’ top appointees to the Charter Reform Committee that crafted an original set of ballot proposals that morphed into the current package.

They argue:

Opponents’ real agenda is to maintain the status quo where one branch of government has near total control over — and the ability to cover up — City finances. That’s what put our City in jeopardy to begin with and now threatens our City’s future progress.

Councilwoman Donna Frye signed the opposition to Prop. C, as did former city Auditor John Torrell and City Council candidate Carl DeMaio.

Torell left his post as auditor at City Hall last year after complaining that the Mayor’s Office had exerted undue influence on his office.

They argue:

Prop C allows the mayor to choose the person who audits all city management and all city departments. The mayor is the city manager in charge of all city departments; allowing any mayor to appoint the person who will audit the city departments is like having the fox guard the henhouse.


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