AB 1344 (Feuer and Alejo) Chaptered: A Reaction to the City of Bell Scandal

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Even though I no longer work as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands or a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, municipal law continues to fascinate me, and I still help governments, business entities, organizations, and private citizens with their municipal legal issues. Even if I did not, the process of municipal government and the interplay between law and politics is fascinating.

The City of Bell scandal has had a large impact on cities, from cities jettisoning the City of Bell’s auditors, to citizens taking another look at how government works.  AB1344 is an attempt to fight the last war, and try to close perceived loopholes that allowed the situation in Bell to occur.  Here is the Legislative Counsel’s Digest for this bill, which was signed by Governor Brown and chaptered on October 9, 2011, and will be operative on January 1, 2012:

AB 1344, Feuer. Local governance.

(1) Existing law requires a charter commission to submit, among other things, a city charter to the voters of a city at either a special election called for that purpose, at any established municipal election date, or at any established election date, provided that there are at least 88 days before the election. Existing law also authorizes the governing body of any city or city and county to, among other things, propose a charter and submit the proposal for the adoption to the voters at either a special election called for that purpose or at any established municipal election date or at any established election date, provided there are at least 88 days before the election.
This bill would require a city charter or charter amendment, whether submitted to the voters by a charter commission or the governing body of the city or city and county, to be submitted at the next established statewide general, statewide primary, or regularly scheduled municipal election date, provided there are at least 95 days before the election. This bill would also require a proposal to adopt a charter, whether submitted to the voters by a charter commission or the legislative body of a city or city and county to include in the ballot description an enumeration of new city powers as a result of the adoption of the charter, including, but not limited to, whether the city council will, pursuant to an adopted charter, have the power to raise its own compensation and the compensation of other city officials without voter approval.

(2) The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act contains various provisions that govern collective bargaining of local represented employees. The Ralph M. Brown Act requires that all meetings of a legislative body of a local agency be open and public and all persons be permitted to attend unless a closed session is authorized. Existing law requires all contracts of employment between an employee and a local agency employer to include a provision which provides that regardless of the term of the contract, if the contract is terminated, the maximum cash settlement that an employee may receive shall be an amount equal to the monthly salary of the employee multiplied by the number of months left on the unexpired term of the contract, with a maximum of 18 months. This bill would, on and after January 1, 2012, additionally prohibit an employment contract for a local agency executive, as defined, from providing an automatic renewal of a contract that provides for an automatic compensation increase in excess of a cost-of-living adjustment or a maximum cash settlement in excess of certain limits, as specified. By expanding the duties of local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

(3) Existing law sets forth the penalties for misuse of public resources or falsifying expense reporting, including, but not limited to, loss of reimbursement privileges, restitution to the local agency, civil penalties for misuse of public resources, and prosecution for misuse of public resources, including imprisonment for 2, 3, or 4 years, and disqualification from holding office, as specified. This bill would, on and after January 1, 2012, require a contract executed or renewed between a local agency and an officer or employee of the local agency to include a provision that requires an officer or employee of a local agency who is convicted of a crime involving an abuse of his or her office or position, as defined, to fully reimburse the local agency for specified payments made by that local agency to the officer or employee. The bill would also require an officer or employee of the local agency, who is convicted of a crime involving an abuse of his or her office, to fully reimburse any such payments that are made by the local agency in the absence of a contractual obligation between the agency and the officer or employee.

(4) The Ralph M. Brown Act enables the legislative body of a local agency to call both regular and special meetings. The act requires the legislative body of a local agency to post an agenda containing a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at a regular meeting, in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public. The act also requires the presiding officer of the legislative body to deliver written notice to each member of the legislative body, and to each local newspaper of general circulation and radio or television station requesting notice in writing if the presiding officer of the legislative body calls a special meeting. This bill would require the legislative body, or the presiding officer of the legislative body, to provide notice of each meeting, including special meetings, on the local agency’s Internet Web site, if the local agency has one, as specified. In addition, this bill would prohibit any legislative body from holding a special meeting regarding the salary, salary schedule, or other form of compensation for any local agency executive.

(5) The bill would express a legislative finding and declaration that, to ensure the statewide integrity of local government, the provisions of the act are an issue of statewide concern and that, therefore, all counties and cities, including charter counties, charter cities, and charter cities and counties, would be subject to the provisions of the bill.

(6) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

Specifically, this bill amends Elections Code sections 9255 and 9260; adds Chapter 10.1, commencing with section 3511.1 to Division 4 of Title 1 of the Government Code; amends Government Code sections 34457 and 34458; adds Government Code section 34458.5, Adds Article 2, commencing with section 53243 to Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 2  of Title 5 of the Government Code,  amends Government Code sections 54954.2 and 54956.

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

Adoption and Amendments to the San Bernardino City Charter by Election

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The City of San Bernardino is a charter city, and since the charter was first adopted on January 6, 1905, it has been amended from time to time, with a complete readoption in 2005.

Below is a list of dates when the voters of San Bernardino considered adopting, adding to, or amending existing sections to the Charter of the City of San Bernardino.  There is at least one other election in the mid 1950s which added section 186 to the Charter.  Not all measures passed, most notably the Measure M election on November 7, 2000 and the Measure C election on November 2, 2010.  There are probably elections with failed charter sections that are not listed.

January 6, 1905 [Special Charter Election, Charter of the City of San Bernardino, adopted by a majority]

December 8, 1908 [Special Municipal Election, Unknown title amending section 182 (Chief of Police), amending section 195, Subdivision 13 (Schools, Non-Residents),  and added Section 238a  (Wage and Hour Law for Public Works) , adopted by a majority]

April 18, 1913 [Proposed by Mayor and Common Council as “Proposed charter amendment number one”, amending section 133 (Bonded Indebtedness), adopted by a majority] [Special Municipal Election]

March 18, 1919 [Proposed by Mayor and Common Council, “Proposed Charter Amendment No.1, No.2, No.3, No.4, and No. 5, adopted by a majority] Special Municipal Election]

April 11, 1921 [Proposed by Mayor and Common Council, “Proposed Charter amendment number one”  amending section 1, “Proposed charter amendment two” repealing section 10, “Proposed Charter amendment three” amending section 40, “Proposed amendment Four, repealing section 224, “Proposed charter amendment number five” repealing section 234, and “Proposed charter amendment number two”, amending section 133 (Bonded Indebtedness , adopted by a majority [Special Municipal Election]

November 7, 1922 [Special Municipal Election]

November 4, 1924  [Special Municipal Election]

April 13, 1925 [Special Municipal Election]

April 8, 1935 [Proposed Charter Amendments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, all adopted] [Special Municipal Election]

March 15, 1937 [Proposed Charter Amendments 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 adopted, amendment 5 defeated] [Special Municipal Election]

March 20, 1939 [Proposed Charter Amendment No. 1, adopted by a majority]  [Municipal Primary Election]

November 3, 1942 [Propositions Number One, Two and Three, adopted by a majority, Propositions Number Four, Five, Six, and seven defeated]  [Special Municipal Election]

May 16, 1944 [Special Municipal Election]

November 7, 1944 [Proposed Charter Amendment Two and Three adopted by a majority, Proposed Charter Amendment One defeated, Special Municipal Election]

March 19, 1945 [Proposed Charter Amendment No. One, Two and Three adopted by a majority] [Special Municipal Election consolidated with a Municipal Primary Election]

April 11, 1949 [Proposed Charter Amendment Number One, Two and Three] [Special Municipal Election]

March 20, 1951 [Proposed Charter Amendments Number One, Two, Three, Four, Rejected, Five, Six and Seven, adopted by a majority] [Special Municipal Election consolidated with a Municipal Primary Election]

April 12, 1955 [Proposed Charter Amendments Number 1 amending section 55 (City Attorney), Number 2, Number 3 (adding section 186 regarding police and fire salaries), adopted and Number 4, rejected]  [General Municipal Election]

June 5, 1956 [Measure N adopted by a majority, Measure O and P, rejected by a majority] [Special Municipal Election consolidated with the Consolidated Direct Primary Election]

March 19, 1957 [Primary Municipal Election]

June 3, 1958 [Special Municipal Election consolidated with the statewide Primary Election]

March 17, 1959 [Primary Municipal Election]

March 21, 1961

February 5, 1963 [adding section 116, andamending section 11,approved by a majority] [Primary Municipal Election]

February 2, 1965 [Proposed by Mayor and Common Council, amending section 141 (City Treasury), approved by a majority] [Primary Municipal Election]

June 7, 1966 [Proposed by Mayor and Common Council,  amending Section 3 (Creating 7 wards), amending sections 10, 11, 13, 14, 30, 31 136, 160, 215, 219 and 282, and repealing 53], approved by a majority] [Special Municipal Election Consolidated with the Direct Primary Election

February 4, 1969 [Proposed by Mayor and Common Council, amending sections 33, 135, 60 (City Clerk), repealing sections 136, 137, 138, 236 and 237, amending section 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 249,  [Primary Municipal Election]

February 6, 1973

June 4, 1974

November 2, 1976 [Held with a Presidential General Election]

March 6, 1979

November 1984

November 1988 [Held with a Presidential General Election]

March 7, 1989

June 2, 1992

March 7, 1995

November 5, 1996 [Measure E, Mayor’s Veto Power, adopted, (18,404 votes Yes (56.6%), 14,103 No (43.3%)] [Held with a Presidential General Election]

November 2, 1999 [Measure X, adopted (8,016 votes Yes (86.6%), 1,234 votes No (13.3%))] [Consolidated Election]

November 7, 2000 [Measure M, Adopt New Charter,  defeated (23,691 votes No (67.7%), 11,277 votes Yes (32.2%)) ] [Held with a Presidential General Election]

November 6, 2001 [Measure H, Incompatibility of Offices, adopted (5,628 votes Yes (64.3%), 3,116 votes No (35.6%)]; [Measure I, Approval for Hiring Outside Counsel, amend section 241, adopted (5,459 Yes (60.3%), 3,592 No (39.6%))] [Consolidated Election]

November 5, 2002 [Measure C, Salary of Mayor amend section 24, adopted (10,355 Yes (52.2%), 9,458 No (47.7%)]; Measure D, Council Salary, defeated (9,333 Yes (47.6%), 10,235 No (52.3%))] [General Election]

November 2, 2004 [Measure G,  Adopt New Charter (1905 Charter with changes) adopted (23,214 Yes (61.83%), 14,333 No (38.17%))] [Held with a Presidential General Election]

November 2, 2010. [Measure C, Appointed City Attorney, Treasure and Clerk, defeated, (11,333 Yes (36.86%), 19,409 No (63.14%))]  [General Election]

The tally, by decades (assuming that the first year (say, 1990) belongs to the next decade and is not the last year of the previous decade):

1900s: 2

1910s: 2

1920s: 4

1930s: 3

1940s: 5

1950s:6

1960s:5

1970s: 4

1980s: 3

1990s:4

2000s: 4

2010s: 1

By my count, attempted adoption or amending of the Charter has happened 43 times in a little over 100 years.

The history of the San Bernardino City Charter is interesting, and I will discuss it more in the future.

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

Duties of the City Clerk Under California Law In a General Law California City

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

In a general law California city, the City Clerk’s duties are created by state law and by city or town ordinances and resolutions.  State law establishes the duties of  a general law City Clerk in Government Code section 40801, et seq.

The Duties of the California general law City Clerk are:

1. Clerical: Keep accurate record of the legislative body and board of equalization in books bearing appropriate titles and devoted exclusively to such purposes  with a comprehensive general index. The City Clerk shall keep an ordinance book and record all certified city ordinances.   The record with the certificate is prima facie evidence of the ordinance’s passage, publication and contents.  The official records should not be filed in any court proceeding.  The City Clerk is the custodian of the city seal.  The City Clerk can administer City oaths, take and certify City affidavits and depositions, and appoint deputies.  (Government Code sections 40801, 40806, 40807, 40813, 40814);

2. Financial: The City Clerk is the City’s accounting officer and shall retain records reflecting the City’s financial condition.  The City Clerk shall cause to be published a summary of the City’s financial report (required by Government Code section 53891 in the form prescribed by the the State Controller) once in a newspaper of general circulation, or if no newspaper, according to code, and posted no later than 120 days after the fiscal year’s close, and the clerk’s financial and accounting duties can be transferred to the finance director.  The City clerk is the ex officio assessor for the assessment and collection of city taxes unless delegated to the county.  (Government Code sections 40802, 40804, 40805, 40805.5, 40810); and

3. Other:  The City Clerk shall perform “such additional duties as are prescribed by ordinance.” ( Government Code section 40812).

 

The City Clerk also has duties created by the Election Code regarding elections and other duties in the Government Code, such as notifying the county board of supervisors regarding the change of a place name or number (Government Code section 34092).  The Government Claims Act allows a government claim to be filed with a city clerk.  Government Code section 915(a)(1).  The City Clerk is also receives Statements of Economic Interest under the Political Reform Act, as well as other duties under the Act.  Government Code section 87500(f).
Other duties can be prescribed by ordinance.  The City of Rancho Cucamonga, for example, requires certain documents on appeals to be filed with the City Clerk.  As I have mentioned before, often California Public Records Act requests are routed through or answered by the City Clerk.  The City Clerk in Redlands sold Fourth of July tickets at the University of Redlands on behalf of  the Redlands 4th of July Committee, Inc.  Many City Clerks process passports for the State Department.

 

A charter law City’s City Clerk’s duties will be created by the City’s Charter.  For example, the City of San Bernardino’s City Charter, Section 60 is very similar to the Government Code’s prescribed duties.

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