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.

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP
A: 1447 Ford St. #201
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 296-6708

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.

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP
A: 1447 Ford St. #201
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 296-6708

“Attention San Bernardino Residents Important City Bankruptcy Information”

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

“ATTENTION SAN BERNARDINO RESIDENTS IMPORTANT CITY BANKRUPTCY INFORMATION” reads the first page of a mailer from the San Bernardino Police Officers Association and the San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters.

The mailer is below (scanned with the back and front first, with the interior page below), and arrived August 4th in post :


The back of the mailer says:

SAN BERNARDINO’S FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS STAND WITH THE RESIDENTS OF SAN BERNARDINO

Dear San Bernardino Residents,
San Bernardino’s Firefighters and Police Officers go to work each day
risking their lives and their safety to protect the lives and safety of the
City’s neighborhoods and families.
We’re in this together with you. We have your back- and we know you
have ours.
Mayor Pat Morris and his administration must be held accountable for
the failed policies that have driven San Bernardino into bankruptcy.
His failures cannot be excused.
Your tax dollars have been squandered.
Jobs have been run out of the City.
Vital city services needed to protect San Bernardino’s families are
facing devastating cuts that will threaten public safety.
We’re willing to do our part and make our fair share of sacrifice to help
the City balance its budget- just as we have for the last several years.
As the City moves forward into Bankruptcy Court we will keep you
informed to ensure that you have the facts about how San Bernardino’s
bankruptcy will affect you and your family.
We thank you for your continued support and are honored to serve you.
Yours truly,
SCOTT MOSS, President
San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters
STEVE TURNER, President
San Bernardino Police Officers Association
Learn more about the City’s Bankruptcy at
www.sanbernardinocitybankruptcy.com

Page Two continues:

WHY DID THE CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO
DECIDE TO DECLARE BANKRUPTCY?
The City claims to have a $45 million budget deficit that will prevent it from
paying its employees and the other bills it owes by the end of summer.-
WHAT CAUSED SAN BERNARDINO’S $45
MILLION BUDGET DEFICIT?
Mayor Pat Morris and his administration failed to make the tough choices
necessary to honestly balance the City’s Budget.
According to an outside independent expert, “San Bernardino faced years
of deficit spending. It’s structural gap, however, was covered-up instead of
addressed. The city sold assets, borrowed from city funds, borrowed from
banks and bondholders, used one year’s surplus to cover the following
year’s deficit, and raided its reserves.”
IS IT COMMON FOR A CITY TO
DECLARE BANKRUPTCY?
No, it’s very rare. Only one or two cities in the entire
nation declare bankruptcy each year. Recently the
cities of Stockton and Mammoth Lakes declared
bankruptcy, and Vallejo declared bankruptcy in 2008.
Vallejo has completed the bankruptcy process but the
financial benefits are unclear. Vallejo spent $13 million
of taxpayer money on legal bills and still does not
have a balanced budget.

Page Three says:

IS THE COST OF THE SALARIES AND PENSIONS
OF FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS THE
CAUSE OF THE CITY’S BANKRUPTCY?
No. Pat Morris is falsely making this claim to hide the fact that his failures
to stop wasteful spending and balance the City’s budget have driven San
Bernardino into bankruptcy.
The truth is the San Bernardino City Charter, as approved by the voters,
protects taxpayers by limiting the salaries and benefits of the City’s
Firefighters and Police Officers.
Additionally, San Bernardino’s Firefighters and Police Officers have always
been willing to do their fair share to help balance the budget. They’ve
offered and accepted reductions to their pay and benefits for the last four
years that has saved the City millions of dollars.
Unfortunately Mayor Morris and his administration failed to use the money
from these savings to cut the deficit. Instead the money was used for
wasteful pet projects like the SBX line.
WILL BANKRUPTCY BE BAD FOR
SAN BERNARDINO?
The greatest risk bankruptcy poses to residents is in the area of job creation.
The decision to declare bankruptcy will likely make it more difficult to attract
job-creating businesses to the City because they will be afraid to invest in
San Bernardino.
That would likely result in an increase in San Bernardino’s already high
unemployment rate.

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: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708