Published: 08 November 2011 07:43 PM

On his second attempt, Rikke Van Johnson persuaded his San Bernardino City Council colleagues on Monday to order the writing of a charter amendment that would limit campaign contributions to elected city officials and limit spending on campaigns.

The San Bernardino city police and firefighter unions have contributed almost $200,000 to City Council and city attorney races this year, and Johnson is wary of their possible influence.

Johnson, Virginia Marquez, Tobin Brinker and Fred Shorett voted yes, Robert Jenkins and Chas Kelley voted no and Wendy McCammack abstained. Jenkins, Kelley and McCammack have received contributions from the public safety unions this year.

The city’s Legislative Review Committee will write the charter amendment. The measure would require signatures from 15 percent of the city’s 72,927 registered voters – about 11,000 – to get on the ballot.

Elected officials appeared on edge Monday – election eve — in the first meeting following accusations by Public Works Director Nadeem Majaj that City Attorney Jim Penman had acted in a threatening manner toward him in an Oct. 5 meeting. Penman confronted Majaj then about withholding a report on a police investigation of allegations of bid-rigging and gift-giving involving the Matich Corporation, a major contributor to Penman. Police said the allegations were unfounded, and Penman repeated on Monday that he recuses himself from signing Matich contracts.

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