San Bernardino Seal

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 05/16/16 – 11:07 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The City Council on Monday voted 5-2 to approve a new city charter on condition it include a provision that the city have its own police department.

Council members Fred Shorett and Jim Mulvihill were the dissenting votes.

A 9-member charter review committee has spent the last two years compiling a new, stripped-down, 12-page charter — a fourth the size of its predecessor — free of procedural and administrative language. It proposed a city council-city manager government structure, the most common form of government in the state and nation.

The proposed new charter ties into the city’s bankruptcy recovery plan filed in federal court, which “made clear the city’s need to streamline governance and operations,” according to the 24-page report presented to the City Council by the charter review committee.

Decades of questionable management and inefficiency, according to the committee, were the result of the city’s antiquated charter, which “complicates daily management and generally neutralizes executive authority.”

Under a city council-city manager form of government, the city council and mayor serve as policy makers and the city manager handles the daily operations of the city and executes the policies set by the council and mayor.

Under the proposed charter, the elected positions of City Clerk, City Attorney and City Treasurer would become positions appointed by the City Council.

What the new charter doesn’t change is the ward system, the number of wards in the city and the number of years the Mayor and each council member can hold office. The Mayor would continue being a full-time elected position, and water board commissioners and library board members would retain their independence.

Additionally, the Civil Service Board would be renamed the Personnel Commission.

But the proposed charter, as presented to the Council on Monday, did not include language requiring the city to have its own police department, which the majority of council members took issue with.

Councilman Henry Nickel said he did not want the charter committee’s last two years of work be in vain, and wanted to ensure voters approve the new charter by including a provision mandating the city have a police department.

“I think there can be some reasonable, modest revisions we can make to make sure this is palatable to the citizens we represent,” Nickel said. “I think there’s some fine tuning we need to do.”

Councilman Fred Shorett warned that any stalling and further revisions to the charter could potentially delay the process and tie the hands of future council members.

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