The Roots of San Bernardino Charter Section 186: A Political Perspective In Two Posts

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

As San Bernardino looks to review and possibly reform its existing charter, last adopted in 2006, this is one in a series looking back at how the City of San Bernardino arrived at this point.

In the last item, the voters of the City of San Bernardino approved (by three votes)  a charter amendment in 1939 that guaranteed minimum raises to certain members of the police department.

A more in-depth look at the political background is found elsewhere, including the political roots of Charter Section 181-A, and the fiscal effect of San Bernardino Charter Section 181-A on the 1939-40 fiscal year budget of the City of San Bernardino.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

The Roots of San Bernardino Charter Section 186: Chapter One

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

This is the first in a series of articles to help people understand the historic context in which section 186, which currently sets the rate of pay of sworn police and fire employees within the City of San Bernardino.

Before the 1955 adoption of section 186, the people of San Bernardino amended the Charter to include minimum police salaries.

A special municipal election (consolidated with a primary municipal election) was held on March 20, 1939 to vote on Proposed Charter Amendment Number One.

Proposed Charter Amendment Number One read:

It is hereby proposed that Article Ten of the City Charter of the City of San Bernardino, entitled “Police and Fire Departments,” be amended by adding thereto a new section, entitled “Section 181A,” said section to read as follows:

“Section 181A:

(a) That the minimum rate to be paid to the following classifications in the Police Department shall be as follows:

Regular Patrolmen, Relief Patrolmen, Traffic Patrolmen, Special Officers and Plain Clothes Officers–A minimum salary of $135.00 per month, said salary to be increased in the sum of $5.00 per month at the end of each six months’ continuous service until a salary of $175.00 is reached, which salary of $175.00 shall thereafter be the minimum salary to be paid said officer.

Desk Sergeants–A minimum salary of $190.00 per month.

Patrol Sergeants–A minimum salary of $190.00 per month.

Motorcycle Officers–A minimum salary of $155.00 per month, based on one year’s service as a Police Officer, said salary to be increased in the sum of $5.00 per month at the end of each six months’ continuous service, until a salary of $185.00 is reached, which salary shall thereafter be the minimum salary to be paid said officer.

Traffic Sergeants–A minimum salary of $200.00 per month.

(b) That the officer’s length of continuous service elapsing prior to the adoption of this provision shall be included in determining said minimum salaries.

(c) That said section shall not be construed to set out or limit the classifications of members of the Police Department, but is intended solely to establish a minimum rate of pay for those classifications herein referred to.”  Statutes of California, 1939, Chapter 38, Pages 3162-3163.

The results of the election were decided by absentee votes.  The Council canvassed the vote on March 27, 1939 and found: 5,264 votes in favor, 5,261 votes against.  The absentee votes ran 75 percent in favor and 25 percent against.

 

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

William Guthrie, San Bernardino City Attorney

William R. Guthrie was the San Bernardino City Attorney from 1913 to 1927, and 1931 until 1935.  He was also the founder of what today is Gresham Savage (from their website http://www.greshamsavage.com/firm-100years.html):

The Gresham Savage story begins in 1910, when founder William Guthrie opened his solo practice in San Bernardino, Calif. Like the rest of the country, the city was in transition, shedding its image as a rough-and-ready saloon town where shootouts and public hangings were commonplace. During the first 20 years of the new century, as Santa Fe locomotives brought thousands of new settlers down the Cajon Pass, the city tripled in size and grew in respectability and importance.

Guthrie served as city attorney for 12 years, gaining valuable experience in industry, mining, tax valuation and assessments. He became an influential figure in business, political and social circles and was an imposing local presence, strolling the streets of San Bernardino in his distinctive white hat.

His reputation for getting results grew rapidly, catching the attention of large corporations, including the Southern Pacific Railroad, California Portland Cement Company, still a Gresham Savage client, and American Potash & Chemical Co., now Searles Valley Minerals, also still with the firm. Later in Guthrie’s career, Henry Kaiser hired him to handle the legal affairs of Kaiser’s new Fontana Steel Mill.

. . .

By the economic crash of 1929, Guthrie had moved into San Bernardino’s new Andreson Building, which still stands today. Throughout the Depression, he continued serving major corporations, including the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, now the BNSF Railway Company and the longest-standing current Gresham Savage client, Southern California Edison and the predecessor to General Telephone, which is now Verizon.

As the country struggled through those difficult years, Guthrie expanded his practice, bringing on Carl B. Hilliard, Donald W. Jordan, John B. Lonergan and Jesse W. Curtis Jr. In 1937, he formed a partnership with Curtis, whose father had been a pioneer San Bernardino County lawyer, Superior Court judge and Supreme Court justice.

. . .

Now as Guthrie & Curtis, the firm prospered during World War II, serving heavy industry companies such as Kaiser Steel and California Portland Cement Company, whose successors remain clients of the firm. These were precedent-setting times, requiring attorneys of strong character and high intellect to properly interpret complex laws dealing with local and regional government regulations. Guthrie would often convene the area’s captains of industry at a local restaurant or meeting place to discuss the important legal and political issues of the day.

. . .

After Curtis left the firm in 1947, Guthrie, Lonergan and Jordan established a legendary partnership that was to be unmatched at handling legal matters involving labor, public land and mining. “New Law Firm Formed in City,” trumpeted the headline in the local newspaper, describing Guthrie as “long one of the outstanding figures” of the county’s bar.

Sadly, failing health forced Guthrie to retire soon after, but not a single client left the firm as Lonergan and Jordan took up the challenge of moving on without the legendary founding attorney. Though practicing in a small-town geographically, they were widely regarded as big-city professionals, expanding the practice even further and attracting multinational corporations as clients.

William Guthrie was born in San Bernardino on November 1, 1886 to William James Guthrie and Anna B. Lawson (Guthrie).  In 1900, he lived with his parents at 472 West Fourth Street in the Second Ward.  His father was listed as a Dry Goods Merchant on the 1900 Census.

By the next Census, he was the head of household as his mother was listed as widowed.  They were living at 626 North E Street in the Second Ward.  William Guthrie was listed as a Deputy County Clerk and as a lawyer. The State Bar of California gives his State Bar number of 3059, and says he was admitted in January 1910. The Census was taken on April 16-18, 2010, so he had just passed the Bar.  His brother, James Guthrie, was already listed as a newspaper reporter (he was later the publisher of the Sun).

In 1910, William Guthrie lived not far from Charles L. Allison (491 West Fourth Street).  Charles Allison was elected City Attorney in 1911, and was defeated by William Guthrie in 1913.  In the 1910-1911 San Bernardino City Directory, Gutherie’s address is listed as 527 E Street, and he is listed as Chief Deputy County Clerk. By the 1911-1912 listing, he is living at 626 North E Street with his brothers, and is listed as a lawyer with Willis & Guthrie.

According to the Minutes of the Mayor and Common Council dated March 20, 1913, he received the following votes in the Primary Municipal Election: In the Republican Primary, 389 votes; in the Democratic Primary, 97 votes; in the Socialist Primary, 10 votes; and the Prohibition Primary, 6 votes.

In the minutes of the Mayor and Common Council Meeting of April 16, 1913, William Guthrie received the following votes in the April 14, 1913 General Municipal Election, 1432 votes over the Socialist candidate J.W. Stephenson’s 823 votes and H.H. Chase received 918 votes.

By the time of the 1913-1914 City Directory, William Guthrie is listed as Attorney and City Attorney, Room 413 of the Katz Building, telephone HOme [sic] 1141, and still living at 646 D Street.  By the 1916 City Directory, he had moved his residence to 939 D Street.

He ran for re-election on April 12, 1915, and gained 2704 votes to his opponent, Cecil H. Phillips’ 1987 votes.

On June 5, 1917, on his draft card, William Guthrie listed his residence as 939 (North) D street, and his occupation as City Attorney, and employed by the City of San Bernardino. He claimed exemptions for supporting his wife and as a City officer.

William Guthrie again ran in the 1919 primary and general elections.  In the primary municipal election, he ran against Fred A. Wilson for the first time.  Guthrie received 2144 votes, Fred A. Wilson received 1170 votes, and Frank T. Bates received  631 votes.

In 1920, he lived at 1151 North D Street with his wife Mary, and he is listed as a general practice attorney.  The City Attorney position at that time was part-time.  It did not become full time until a Charter section 55 was amended in a special election on January 6, 1955.

William Guthrie ran unopposed in the 1923 election.

By 1924, the San Bernardino Directory lists him as City Attorney, with his office at 205-210 Katz Building, and his residence as 1151 North D Street.

In the March 1927 primary election, Guthrie defeated Fred A. Wilson.  Fred A. Wilson was a San Bernardino attorney, State Bar Number 7329 admitted in September 1911.  However, in the 1927 general primary election, Fred A. Wilson won.

By 1928, his office was at 506 Andreson Building, 320 North E, and his home was still at 1151 North D Street.

In 1930, he still lived at 1151 N. D Street with his wife Mary and daughter Elizabeth.  Their home was listed as valued at $12,000.  His occupation is lawyer (owns office).

William Guthrie ran for City attorney again in 1931, beating City Attorney Fred A. Wilson in the General Election by a vote of 4,180 to 3,543.

In the April 8, 1935 General Municipal Election, H.R. Griffin defeated William Guthrie in a close race. H.R. Griffin, received 4,508 votes, and Guthrie received 4,040 votes.  Theo G. Krumm received 889 votes.

By 1940, he was living at 356 West 18th Street.  He was listed as a lawyer in his own private practice.  He lived with his wife Mary, his daughter Elizabeth, and a young man named Felix Flint, who was their “hired yard man.”

William Guthrie died on November 2, 1947 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

His obituary in the Los Angeles Times of November 4, 1947 read:

William Guthrie, San Bernardino Attorney, Dies

William Guthrie, 61, San Bernardino attorney, died at St. Vincent’s Hospital Sunday night of a lung infection.  In failing health since September, he was brought here from his home last Tuesday to undergo treatment by specialists.

A native of San Bernardino, Mr. Guthrie was admitted to the California Bar 35 years ago. He prepared himself for his bar examination by studying law in his after-office hours while he was employed as a deputy county clerk.  He served as City Attorney of San Bernardino for 12 years.

Mr. Guthrie was known as an authority on corporation law. His clients included many of the industrial corporations of the State. He practiced frequently in Los Angeles courts, and was a member of the California, University and Jonathan clubs here.

He leaves his widow, Mrs. Mary D. Guthrie, a daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Goss, Claremont, and two brothers, James A. Guthrie, publisher and editor of the San Bernardino Sun, and Howard M. Guthrie, San Bernardino businessman.

Abusive Code Enforcement

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I have begun to notice a pattern in complaints about code enforcement agencies lately.

One is that certain cities (especially large charter cities) regarding what they want out of code enforcement. They used to want to use code enforcement tools to eliminate blight and come into compliance.  Now, it seems that many cities want to generate revenue from code enforcement instead of compliance.

The second pattern is that code enforcement is abusing their discretion.  In order to make money, little infractions become major code enforcement violations.  Dormant trees in the winter become unmaintained landscaping. A burnt patch of summer grass becomes lack of landscaping.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

 

City of Detroit Bankruptcy and a Comparison to the City of San Bernardino Bankruptcy

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Last night, I was interviewed by ABC (Australia) News (Radio) regarding the filing of Bankruptcy in Detroit.  It aired during drive time in Australia today (July 19, 2013), which I believe was still last night in California.  I was interviewed by Julian Morrow.

The program was RN Friday Drive, and you can find a link to the podcast of the interview.

I was interviewed late last year by RAI-TV in Italy regarding the San Bernardino Bankruptcy, but I have never seen the footage and I don’t know if it was aired.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

The Notices of Intention to Circulate Recall Petitions in the Proposed San Bernardino Recall 2013

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Below are four of the Notices of Intention to Circulate A Recall Petition, or at least unexecuted and undated versions.  The originals were in PDF format which were printed with the home addresses of the petition signers were crudely redacted using a Sharpie Magnum Permanent Marker, and rescanned into PDF.

City Attorney James F. Penman

The reasons for the recall are listed by Scott Beard, the proponent, Wendy McCammack’s appointment to the City of San Bernardino Planning Commission, Rialto-based developer, and Seventh Ward resident:

The grounds for the recall are as follows: Mr. Penman is the duly elected City Attorney, and as such is accountable for the actions of that office and of his subordinates. Mr. Penman has been derelict in his official duties by failing to properly enforce the law regarding personal use of public property by members of the Common Council. In addition, Mr. Penman’s office’s selective enforcement of City codes and his failure to timely update and codify city codes, ordinances, and other matters lawfully passed by the City Council has created confusion and insecurity in the City’s residents and businesses regarding accuracy of the City’s published law.

Council Member Virginia Marquez, First Ward

The reasons listed for the recall in the Notice of Intention are listed by the proponent, Christian Fernando Flores (who was reported in the Sun as a student at California State University, San Bernardino):

The grounds for the recall are as follows: Council Member Marquez was elected to office
in November of 2009 and has since that time has failed to protect the health, safety, and welfare
of the residents of the City of San Bernardino and demonstrated dereliction to the duties of her
elected office by making fiscally irresponsible votes and by supporting fiscally irresponsible
program leading to the misuse of the City’s General Fund. Council Member Marquez’s actions
and failures to act, have propelled the City of San Bernardino into financial crisis, and have led
to the filing for protection under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy laws by the City. The City
of San Bernardino is currently the object of nation-wide ridicule as a result of the mishandling of
the bankruptcy and its proceedings.

Further, Council Member Marquez has violated the public trust by repeatedly failing to
reach consensus with the other members of the San Bernardino City Council on basic issues of
City finances, and ignored advice of the City’s Executive Staff for the previous two years
regarding financial concerns. Her actions have led to massive reductions in City services and
police and fire personnel, causing an increase in crime rates, businesses leaving the City, and
contributed to overall blight within the City.

Council Member Fred Shorret:

The proponent of the recall against Fred Shorett, 4th Ward Council Member, Stephen T. Dawson, who is the chairperson of the United  Transportation Union, states:

The grounds for the recall are as follows: Council Member Shorett was elected to office in March of 2009 and has since that time has failed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the City of San Bernardino and demonstrated dereliction to the duties of his elected office by making fiscally irresponsible votes and by supporting fiscally irresponsible program leading to the misuse of the City’s General Fund. Council Member Shorett’s actions and failures to act have propelled the City of San Bernardino into financial crisis, and have led to the filing for protection under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy laws by the City.
Further, Council Member Shorett has violated the public trust by repeatedly failing to reach consensus with the other members of the San Bernardino City Council on basic issues of City finances which would allow the City of San Bernardino to emerge from the bankruptcy proceedings and begin revival of its economy. The City of San Bernardino is currently the object of nation-wide ridicule as a result of the mishandling of the bankruptcy and its proceedings.

Mayor Patrick J. Morris:

Scott Beard, also the proponent of the recall against City Attorney James F. Penman, gives these reasons:

The grounds for the recall are as follows: Mayor Morris was elected to office in February of 2006 and has since that time has failed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the City of San Bernardino and demonstrated dereliction to the duties of his elected office by failing to veto fiscally irresponsible votes and fiscally irresponsible programs leading to the misuse of the City’s General Fund. Mayor Morris’s [sic] failures to act have propelled the City of San Bernardino into financial crisis, and have led to the filing for protection under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy laws by the City.
Further, Mayor Morris has violated the public trust by repeatedly failing to facilitate consensus with the members of the San Bernardino City Council on basic issues of City finances, and ignored advice of the City’s Executive Staff for the previous two years regarding financial concerns. His action and inaction have led to massive reductions in City services and police and fire personnel, causing an increase in crime rates, businesses leaving the City, and contributed to overall blight within the City.

The original PDFs, which are not the embedded redacted versions you see here, have some metadata that explains a little about the origin of the PDFs that were obtained. The Notice of Intent  involving Mayor Patrick J. Morris was created on April 28, 2013 at 10:04:50 PM, with the application being Microsoft Word 2010, with “Michael” listed as the author.  The Notice of Intent to Virginia Marquez  was titled C:\My Files000 — SanBernardinoMatter\NOI.2013.1stWard(Marquez).wpd, also authored by “Michael.”  It was created on April 28, 2013 at 2:19:17 PM.  The original file was on WordPerfect (as you can see by the extension), but the PDF was created by Acrobat Distiller 9.0.0. The Fred Shorret document was created by Microsoft Word 2010, also authored by “Michael.”  It was created on April 28, 2013 at 3:40:59.  The City Attorney James F. Penman document was also on Word 2010, on April 28, 2013, at 10:00:13.

What does this metadata mean?  That whoever created the PDF (but not necessarily the author of the petitions), was named Michael, and that at least one of the documents was created on WordPerfect.  WordPerfect is, or was, largely used by attorneys. No conclusions can be drawn from this metadata.  The Michael may refer to Michael McKinney, the Orange County-based publicist for the recall proponents.  It could be someone else entirely.

Unfortunately, the petitions to recall Second Ward Council Member Robert Jenkins, Third Ward Council Member John Valdivia, Fifth Ward Council Member Chas Kelley, Sixth Ward Council Member and Mayoral Candidate Rikke Van Johnson and Seventh Ward Council Member Wendy McCammack were unavailable.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

The Recall Process Under the Charter of the City of San Bernardino

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The current Charter of the City of San Bernardino, Article VII is entitled “Initiative, Referendum and Recall.”  Section 122 of the Charter reads (with annotations):

Section 122. The Recall. Proceedings may be commenced for recall of the

holder of any elective office of this City and the election of a successor of the

holder sought to be removed by the service, filing and publication of a notice of

intention to circulate a recall petition. Such proceedings may not be commenced

against the holder of an office unless, at the time of commencement, the holder

has held office for at least ninety days and no recall petition has been filed against

such holder within the preceding six months. A petition demanding the recall of the

officer sought to be recalled shall be submitted to the City Clerk. The petition shall

be signed by not less than fifteen percent (15%) of the voters of the City, or in the

case of a City Council Member elected by ward twenty-five percent (25%) of the

voters of that ward, according to the County Clerk’s last official report of

registration to the Secretary of State. No signature may be affixed to the petition

until the proponents have served, filed and published a notice of intention to

circulate a recall petition, containing the name of the officer sought to be recalled

and the title of his/her office, a statement in not more than 500 words of the

grounds on which the recall is sought, and the name and address of at least one,

but not more than five proponents. The notice of intention shall be served,

personally or by certified mail, on the officer sought to be recalled, and a copy

thereof with a certificate of the time and manner of service shall be filed with the

clerk of the legislative body. Within seven (7) days after the filing of the notice of

intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the City Clerk an answer in

not more than 500 words to the statement of the proponents and if an answer is

filed, shall serve a copy thereof, personally or by certified mail, on one of the

proponents named in the notice of intention. At the time the proponents publish

the notice and statement referred to above, the officer sought to be recalled may

have the answer published at his/her expense. If the answer is to be published the

officer shall file with the City Clerk at the time the answer is filed a statement

declaring his/her intent that the answer be published. The statement and answer

are intended solely for the information of the voters and no insufficiency in the form

or substance thereof shall affect the validity of the election or proceedings. The

notice and statement as referred to above, and the answer, if it is to be published

shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation, as described

in Sections 6000 to 6066 of the Government Code, adjudicated as such.

Seven (7) days after the publication of the notice, statement and answer, if it

is to be published, the recall petition may be circulated and signed. The petition

shall bear a copy of the notice of intention, statement and answer, if any. If the

officer has not answered, the petition shall so state. Signatures shall be secured

and the petition filed within ninety (90) days from the filing of the notice of intention.

If such petition is not filed within the time permitted by this section, the same shall

be void for all purposes. The signatures to the petition need not all be appended to

one paper; but each signer shall add to his/her signature his/her place of

residence, giving the street and such other identification as may be required by the

registration law. One of the signers of each such paper shall make oath before an

officer qualified to administer oaths, that the statements therein made are true, and

that each signature to the paper appended, is the genuine signature of the person

whose name purports to be thereunto subscribed. Within thirty (30) days after the

date of filing such petition the City Clerk shall examine and ascertain whether or

not said petition is signed by the requisite number of qualified electors and, if

necessary, the Council shall allow extra help for that purpose, and the City Clerk

shall attach to said petition a certificate showing the result of said examination. If,

by the City Clerk’s certificate, the number of signatures on the petition is shown to

be insufficient, it shall be returned forthwith by the Clerk to the filer(s) thereof who

shall have an additional thirty (30) days from the date the petition is returned to

them by the Clerk to obtain the required number of signatures. The City Clerk shall,

within thirty (30) days after such additional thirty (30) day period to obtain

additional signatures, make like examination of said petition, and, if his/her

certificate shall show the same to be insufficient it shall be void for all purposes. If

the petition shall be found to be sufficient, the City Clerk shall submit the same to

the Council without delay and the Council shall thereupon order and fix a date for

holding said election, not less than fifty (50) days, nor more than seventy (70) days

from the date of the City Clerk’s certificate to the Council that a sufficient petition is

filed.

The ballots used when voting upon said proposed recall shall contain the

words “shall (title of office and the name of the person against whom the recall is

filed) be recalled?” and the words “yes” and “no.”

The Council and the City Clerk shall make, or cause to be made, publication

of notice and all arrangements for conducting, returning and declaring the results

of such election in the same manner as other City elections.

Qualified candidates to succeed the person against whom the recall is filed,

shall be listed on the ballot, except that the incumbent shall not be eligible to

succeed himself/herself in any such recall election.

In any such removal election, if a majority of the votes cast is for “yes” on

the question of whether or not the incumbent should be recalled, the candidate

receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected. The incumbent

shall thereupon be deemed removed from the office upon qualification of his/her

successor. In case the party who received the highest number of votes should fail

to qualify within ten (10) days after receiving notification of election, the office shall

be deemed vacant. The successor of any officer so removed shall hold office

during the unexpired term of his/her predecessor. (Effective March 16, 2005)

Any elected official in the City of San Bernardino can be recalled using this procedure.  The limitations are stated above in which the office holder must be in office at least 90 days, and no recall petition has been filed against the office holder in the preceding six months.  The elected officials of the City of San Bernardino are the Mayor, the seven members of the Common Council, the City Clerk, the City Treasurer, and the City Attorney.

The Municipal Code further gives the procedure for recall elections as follows:

2.56.160 Recall elections.
A recall election to remove an elected officer pursuant to Charter Section
122 shall be ordered, held and conducted and the result thereof made known and
declared in the same manner provided in this chapter for municipal primary and
general elections except as follows:
A. Time for Obtaining Signatures. Nomination papers shall be issued and
verification deputies appointed to obtain signatures to nomination papers of
any candidate at any time not earlier than the thirty-fifth day nor later than
five p.m. on the twenty-ninth day before the recall election.
B. Date filed with City Clerk. All nomination papers shall be filed with the City
Clerk not later than five p.m. on the twenty-ninth day before the recall
election.
C. Not earlier than the thirty-fifth day, nor later than the tenth day before a recall
election, the City Clerk shall publish a notice of the election at least once in
one or more newspapers published and circulated in the City. The notice
shall be headed “Notice of Election,” and shall contain a statement of:
1. The time of the election;
2. The offices to be filled, specifying full term or short term, as the case
may be;
3. The hours the polls will be open.
D. Absentee Ballots. Not earlier than the twenty-sixth day, nor later than the
seventh day before a recall election, any voter entitled to vote by absent
voter ballot as provided in Elections Code Section 14620 [See now §3003],
may file with the City Clerk either in person or by mail, his written application
for an absent voter’s ballot. The application shall be signed by the applicant,
shall show his place of residence, and shall make clear to the City Clerk the
applicant’s right to a ballot.
Applications received by the City Clerk hereunder on or after the
fortieth day but prior to the twenty-sixth day before election shall not be
returned to the sender, but shall be held by the City Clerk and processed by
him following the twenty-sixth day prior to election in the same manner as
if received at that time.

(Ord. 3601 (part), 1976; Ord. 2048 §10, 1954.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Legal Counsel for Omnitrans

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Sometimes it is difficult to find the legal counsel for specialized districts, joint powers authorities, or other non-city, non-county organizations.  For example, Omnitrans, the Joint Powers Authority that provides public transportation in the East Valley and Western San Bernardino County, does not list the information on its website.    However, Carol Greene, of the Office of County Counsel for San Bernardino County, is listed as legal counsel for Omnitrans on a number of Omnitrans meeting agendas.

Did the San Bernardino Unified School District Violate Education Code Section 7054 Regarding Advocacy For Measure N on The November 6, 2012 Ballot?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Measure N is the San Bernardino City Unified School District’s bond measure is to sell $250,000,000 (250 million dollars or a quarter billion dollars) in aggregate principal of  bonds with a maturity not to exceed twenty-five years. The ballot statement and resolution do not give the total cost to the bond issue including principal and interest.  The District’s estimate is that it will cost property owners $34 per year for each $100,000 of assessed value to pay the principal and interest on the bonds (which is in addition to any existing bonds).  It was placed on the ballot by the Board of Education on August 7, 2012 by a six to one vote.  The members voting for were Barbara Flores, Mike Gallo, Margaret Hill, Bobbie Perong, Lynda Savage, Judi Penman.  Danny Tillman voted no.  The measure requires a 55 percent “yes” vote to pass per Proposition 39 (2000) and Education Code section 15264.  In connection with Measure N, the San Bernardino Unified School District has sent mass mailings, including this piece:

California Education Code section 7054 reads, as of today:

(a) No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.
(b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the use of any of the public resources described in subdivision (a) to provide information to the public about the possible effects of any bond issue or other ballot measure if both of the following conditions are met:
(1) The informational activities are otherwise authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state.
(2) The information provided constitutes a fair and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the electorate in reaching an informed judgment regarding the bond issue or ballot measure.
(c) A violation of this section shall be a misdemeanor or felony punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both, or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months, or two or three years.
Therefore, a school district cannot use funds for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate.  California Education Code section 7054(a).  However, a limitation to California Education Code seciton 7054(a) is that a school district may expend public resources to provide information to the public about the possible effects of any bond issue if two conditions are met.  The informational activities are otherwise allowed by law, and the “information provided constitutes a fair and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the electorate in reaching an informed judgment regarding the bond issue or ballot measure.”  California Education Code section 7054(b).  The violation of this section is a wobbler, punishable as a misdemeanor or felony. California Education Code section 7054(b).
In the resolution of August 7, 2012, the San Bernardino Unified School District Board of Directors made this finding:
WHEREAS, the District needs to install lighting, replace and fix fences and update security
alarms to keep students safe during and after school and to protect our schools from gang
members who break into schools, vandalize and steal equipment;  . . .
The front of the mailer states “From the Desk of School District Police Chief Joseph Paulino”
The letter says

Dear Neighbor:

As School District Police Chief, my job is to keep our students and school sites safe.
I also seek to protect our schools from intruders who break into schools, vandalize, steal school equipment and tag walls with graffiti. Unfortunately, many of our schools have outdated security alarms, inadequate fences and limited lighting.
Measure N is on your local ballot.  Among the priorities included in Measure N are the following safety and security upgrades to San Bernardino and Highland schools:
  • Maintain safe, clean clasrooms
  • Repair/replace leaky roofs
  • Remove asbestos and other hazardous materials
  • Repair/replace fire alarms, security and electrical systems
  • Replace old playground equipment with new, safer equipment

Remember to vote on Measure N.

Sincerely,
/s/
Chief Joseph Paulino
San Bernardino School District
Police Department
The Measure does not give an actual project list (meaning, x amount is going to do x at Cajon High School on x date).   However, there is a more generic project list, and this is the relevant section:
School Safety and Energy Efficiency School Projects
Goal and Purpose: The District must protect its schools from gang members who break
into schools, vandalize and steal equipment and tag walls with graffiti. Unless the District
replaces outdated security alarms, inadequate fences and limited safety lighting, it can’t
keep them out. To keep students safe during and after school, projects such as proper
lighting, fences and security alarms are needed:
Student Safety
• Repair and replace security and electrical systems, such as security lighting, fencing,
gates and classroom door locks.
• Upgrade fire alarm systems including fire safety equipment and sprinklers to make
students safe in the event of an emergency.
• Upgrade schools to meet handicap accessibility requirements.
• Remove hazardous materials like asbestos and lead paint from older school sites.
• Increase after-school program space to reduce juvenile violence.
The headline’s question is whether the District’s statement has violated California Education Code section 7055 regarding advocacy for Measure N.  The California Supreme Court decision in Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206 is important to consider in such cases. The Court ruled:
On June 4, 1974, California voters approved a $250 million bond issue to provide funds for the future acquisition of park land and recreational and historical facilities by state and municipal authorities. One day before the election, plaintiff Sam Stanson filed the present taxpayer suit, alleging that defendant William Penn Mott, Jr., director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation (department), had authorized the department to expend more than $5,000 of public funds to promote the passage of the bond issue. Asserting the illegality of such use of public funds, plaintiff sought a judgment that would require Mott personally to repay the funds to the state treasury and any other appropriate relief.

. . .

As we explain, past decisions in both California and our sister states establish that, at least in the absence of clear and explicit legislative authorization, a public agency may not expend public funds to promote a partisan position in an election campaign; in the present case, no legislative provision accorded the Department of Parks and Recreation such authorization. Although the department did possess statutory authority to disseminate ‘information’ to the public relating to the bond election, the department, in fulfilling this informational role, was obligated to provide a fair presentation of the relevant facts. Since plaintiff specifically alleged that public funds were expended for ‘promotional,’ rather then ‘informational,’ purposes, his complaint stated a valid cause of action, and the trial court erred in sustaining defendant’s demurrer. If plaintiff proves the allegations of his complaint at trial, he will be entitled to at least a declaratory judgment that such expenditure of public funds was improper, and, perhaps, to injunctive relief as well.
Whether defendant Mott may be held personally liable for the funds which have already been spent presents a more difficult question. Although early California decisions held public officials strictly liable for any unauthorized expenditure of public funds, even when such expenses were incurred in good faith, subsequent legislation has considerably narrowed the circumstances under which public employees are generally held personally accountable for resultant losses. In accommodating the policy underlying this legislative development with the long-recognized public interest in protecting the public treasury from potential mismanagement or abuse, we conclude that defendant may be held personally liable to repay expended funds only if he failed to exercise due care in authorizing the expenditure of the funds. Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206, 209-210.
What is the difference between promotional and informational? Stanson v. Mott says it’s a fine line, but in the case of Mr. Stanson v. Mr. Mott, left it to the trial court to decide:
Problems may arise, of course, in attempting to distinguish improper ‘campaign’ expenditures from proper ‘informational’ activities. With respect to some activities, the distinction is rather clear; thus, the use of public funds to purchase such items as bumper stickers, posters, advertising ‘floats,’ or television and radio ‘spots’ unquestionably constitutes improper campaign activity (see, e.g., Mines v. Del Valle, supra, 201 Cal. at p. 276, 257 P. 530; Porter v. Tiffany, supra, 502 P.2d at p. 1386), as does the dissemination, at public expense, of campaign literature prepared by private proponents or opponents of a ballot measure. (See 51 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 190, 194 (1968); Stern v. Kramersky, supra, 375 N.Y.S.2d 235.) On the other hand, it is generally accepted that a public agency pursues a proper ‘informational’ role when it simply gives a ‘fair presentation of the facts’ in response to a citizen’s request for information (see Citizens to Protect Pub. Funds v. Board of Education, supra, 98 A.2d 673, 677; Stern v. Kramarsky, supra, 375 N.Y.S.2d 235, 239—240; 51 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 190, 193 (1968)) or, when requested by a public or private organization, it authorizes as agency employee to present the department’s view of a ballot proposal at a meeting of such organization. (See Ed.Code, s 1073;cf. Citizens to Protect Pub. Funds v. Board of Education, supra, 98 A.2d 673, 677.)

      Frequently, however, the line between unauthorized campaign expenditures and authorized informational activities is not so clear. Thus, while past cases indicate that public agencies may generally publish a ‘fair presentation of facts’ relevant to an election matter, in a number of instances publicly financed brochures or newspaper advertisements which have purported to contain only relevant factual information, and which have refrained from exhorting voters to ‘Vote Yes,’ have nevertheless been found to constitute improper campaign literature. (See 35 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 112 (1960); 51 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 190 (1968); cf. 42 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 25, 27 (1964).) In such cases, the determination of the propriety or impropriety of the expenditure depends upon a careful consideration of such factors as the style, tenor and timing of the publication; no hard and fast rule governs every case.  Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206, 221-222.
The question, then, is this presentation “fair and impartial?  The mailer does not say Vote for Measure N, (it says “vote on Mesaure N”).  On the other hand, it says that the Chief wants to keep students and school sites safe, and protect schools from intruders, and that many schools have outdated security alarms, inadequate fences and limited lighting. It then says that Measure N is on the ballot.  It then says that the priorities included in Measure N are the following safety and security upgrades.  Arguably, each of these things are true.  However, someone may argue that in placement of the needs and the solutions to that need together, the San Bernardino Unified School District has gone from a strictly informational piece about Measure N to advocating for voters to vote for Measure N.  Further, the style of the mailer looks like a campaign advocacy piece, showing the picture of the Chief in his uniform, showing stock photos of alarms and a fire pull box, and a drug free, gun free, school zone sign.
A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Garage Sales and Yard Sales (and permits) in the Cities of Highland, Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Redlands, Yucaipa and unincorporated San Bernardino County

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

People want to know how to get yard sale and garage sale permits in the East Valley, and they find this site because of this article about the City of San Bernardino’s yard sale ordinance.  Therefore, here is a chart to give a basic (but not complete) understanding of the rules and regulations regarding yard sales in the East Valley, here defined as the Cities of Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa and unincorporated San Bernardino County such as Muscoy, Mentone, Oak Glen, Devore, Arrowhead Suburban Farms, Devore Heights, and Del Rosa.  Per the City Clerk of Loma Linda, there is no yard sale ordinance in the City of Loma Linda as of 10/17/2012.  Note also that homeowners associations (HOAs) probably have additional restrictions (particularly East Highlands Ranch) which you should look into.

City/Unincorporated Permit Required Permit Cost Where? Duration
Colton Yes $2, except charity, nonprofit, religious Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Grand Terrace Yes (Except Exemptions) $5 Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Highland Yes $7 Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Loma Linda N/A N/A N/A N/A
Redlands Yes $2.50 Treasurer 3 d or 2d each over consecutive weekends; 8 am-8pm
Rialto Yes (Except Exemptions) $5.40 Finance Department 3d, daylight
San Bernardino No (anomoly regarding Estate Sales) N/A N/A 3d, daylight
Yucaipa After 1st sale $2.50 (sales 2-4) Front Desk, City Hall 3d, 8am-8 pm
Unincorporated San Bernardino County No (See SBCC section 84.25.030(e) unless exceed standards of 84.10. N/A N/A 3d, 8am-5 pm
City/Unincorporated Frequency Display Signage Exemptions Ordinance Codified At Violation
Colton 1/quarter Not in PROW During, onsite Court sales Ord 1483 (1975); 0-3-1989 (1989) Colton Municipal Code Chapter 5.45 Misdemeanor
Grand Terrace 2/yr Not in PROW 2 onsite, unlit, 4ft area, 5 day limit, not on PROW, trees, fences, utility poles, removed at end Court sales, charitable, nonprofit, religious Ord 35 (1980) Grand Terrace Municipal Code Chapter 5.40 Infraction
Highland 3/12 mo Safety 1 onsite doublesided, 6 ft area, 5′ tall, 24 hours before until end. Court sales Ord 239 (1998) Highland Municipal Code section 5.04.370 Infraction
Loma Linda N/A N/A N/A N/A None N/A N/A
Redlands 3/12 mo Not in PROW, safety, only during sale Court sales Prior Code secs 24001-10; Ord 2684 (2007), 2779 (2012), Redlands Municipal Code Chapter 5.68 Infraction
Rialto 4/calendar yr only first weekend in March, June, September and December Not in PROW, front or side yards 2 onsite, 4ft area, 4directional signs, prohibited in PROW, >864 sq in., with permission of property owner. Nonprofits, Ord 1416 (2008) Rialto Municipal Code Chapter 5.69 Infraction; misdemeanor for <3/yr
San Bernardino 12/yr only on 3rd weekend of mo Not in PROW, safety, only during sale 3 onsite unlit 24 hr prior until end; 4 Directional 2 sq ft  on private property w/consent Estate sales as to frequency nonprofits as to frequency Ord MC-1344 (2011) San Bernardino Municipal Code Chapter 8.14 Infraction/misdemanor (woblette)
Yucaipa 4/12 mo Not in PROW 1 onsite, not in PROW Court sales Ord 102 (1992) Yucaipa Municipal Code Chapter 5.22 Infraction
Unincorporated San Bernardino County 4/yr Not in PROW 2 onsite, 4ft area, 4 directional signs, prohibited in PROW, 864 sq in., w/permission of property owner. None Ord. 411 (2007) San Bernardino County Code  Chapter 84.10 Infraction; misdemeanor for >3/yr

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. BE SURE TO CHECK WITH THE INVOLVED CITIES FOR CURRENT LAW AND FEES.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055
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