Government Reform

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 03/19/15 – 7:06 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> A proposed realignment of elected officials’ responsibilities and authority will be presented to the City Council for agreement April 6 as the first concrete suggestion from the group that met Wednesday and Thursday to help the city form a longterm strategic plan.

The three-page “interim charter agreement” is intended to address what the 17-member group agreed the day before were inefficiencies in the city charter that have held the city back.

“It is very apparent to us that the City’s Charter is a compendium of conflicting provisions, a recipe for inefficiency and finger pointing given the overlapping of legislative (policy making) and managerial responsibilities between the Mayor, Common Council, the City Attorney and City Manager,” reads the agreement, drafted by consultant Management Partners after discussion with the rest of the group. “It is unclear who is in charge and whom to hold accountable.”

Group members, chosen by the mayor as part of a citywide strategic planning process, said that the city’s bankruptcy “confirms” the need to replace the city’s charter but granted that a replacement likely can’t happen without a vote of the people in November 2016.

Until then, City Council members will be asked to formally agree to an alignment of duties more closely matching the typical council-manager form of government: the council adopting policy, the mayor serving as a spokesman, the city attorney providing legal advice, and the city manager having sole authority for managing and directing staff.

Such an arrangement would limit, particularly, the role the mayor and city attorney have played under the charter, while increasing the city manager’s.

Changes to the city charter have been controversial in the past, although even as one proposed change drew heavy opposition in 2014, voters approved another.

Mayor Carey Davis, City Attorney Gary Saenz and most of the six council members who attended at least some of the discussion — all except Councilman John Valdivia — explicitly said they support the document and would vote in its favor.

To read entire story, click here.