San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 03/12/14, 6:28 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> Plans for a charter review committee are moving forward despite a letter from the police union challenging the legality of the process.

The three-page letter, sent by attorney Rockne A. Lucia Jr. on behalf of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association, argues mainly that the proposed committee doesn’t follow state law regarding the formation of a charter review commission because the committee’s members are appointed rather than elected by residents and because they aren’t all required to be residents.

The union also contends that, if a committee or commission does go forward, it should include union representatives.

“Of course, the Council may simply propose amendments to the City Charter directly, and ask City residents for an up or down vote on its proposals,” the letter, dated March 11, says. “This at least would streamline the process, and provide more direct political accountability (or praise) for any amendment’s fate. Why this is not being done escapes our understanding.”

That is the process the council intends to follow, after getting nonbinding advice from the committee. The change from calling it a commission — with the power to put amendments on the ballot — to an advisory committee was the main reason the resolution wasn’t voted on when Mayor Carey Davis presented it at his first meeting, leading to a series of changes to the resolution discussed over the past week and at a special meeting Tuesday.

Those changes will be put into a clean version that the City Council will vote on Monday. The City Council, mayor and city attorney were given the letter shortly before a Tuesday meeting at which they approved certain changes to the charter review committee in theory and put off a final vote until Monday.

“The impression I had seeing the letter was that it was concerning the initial commission,” City Attorney Gary Saenz said Wednesday. “I did not consider very carefully each of the details since our resolution has changed considerably from the one they are addressing.”

But union president Steve Turner said the change was a distinction without a difference, and that if the city didn’t compromise his group might challenge the process in court.

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