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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Alameda
Measure AA Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passed

28,585 votes yes (73.51%)

10,300 votes no (26.49%)

100% of precincts reporting (12/12).

Shall the measure amending the City Charter to clarify the prohibition against members of the City Council interfering with City Manager's duties, authorize the City Attorney to prosecute State law misdemeanors, and amend outdated provisions, including utilizing gender neutral language, be adopted? Such amendments will be accomplished by amending Charter Sections 2-9, 2-16, 7-3, 8-2, 10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-4.1, and deleting Sections 2-15, 22-7, 22-8, as set forth in City Council Resolution No. 15673.

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters Alameda

The Question

“Shall the measure amending the City Charter to clarify the prohibition against members of the City Council interfering with City Manager’s duties, authorize the City Attorney to prosecute State law misdemeanors, and amend outdated provisions, including utilizing gender neutral language, be adopted? Such amendments will be accomplished by amending Charter Sections 2-9, 2-16, 7-3, 8-2, 10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-4.1, and deleting Sections 2-15, 22-7, 22-8, as set forth in City Council Resolution No. 15673.”

The Situation

The City Charter was adopted in 1937 and it describes Alameda's Council Manager form of municipal government. In this structure, the City Manager is entrusted with all administrative functions and the Council is responsible for establishing policy, passing local ordinances, voting appropriations, and developing an overall vision for the city. The Charter prohibits the City Council and Mayor from interfering in the administrative functions of the City. In 2019, the City Council approved the formation and funding of the City Prosecutors’ Office. Currently, the City must request permission from the District Attorney to prosecute local violations of state law. Across the state, district attorney’s offices focus on prosecuting high-level crimes.

The Proposal

This ballot measure would amend the City Charter.

  1. New language clarifies the separation of administrative and Council functions by defining specific prohibitions against interference with the City Manager’s duties by City Council members and the Mayor. It requires that council members and Mayor work through the City Manager or other such officers on administrative functions. Violations will be prosecuted and, if convicted, Council members will be removed from office.

  2. Section 8-2 expands the City Attorney’s authority to prosecute all misdemeanor violations against the Laws of California that occur in Alameda. Currently, the City Attorney has only the full authority to prosecute violations of the City Charter. The City Attorney must receive permission from the county District Attorney’s office to prosecute violations of State law.

  3. It deletes language that: removes an elected or appointed officer of the City who is physically absent for more than 30 days without permission of the Council; requires appointments to Board and Commissions between May 1 and July 1; specifies travel reimbursement and hours of operation for City offices.

  4. It changes personal pronouns to gender neutral.

Fiscal effect

The change in the City Attorney’s authority does not have new fiscal implications. In 2019, the City Council approved $400,000 to create the City Prosecutor’s office pending changes to the City Charter to litigate misdemeanors.

Supporters say

 

  • It clarifies the role and responsibilities of the City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney.

  • It replaces outdated gender terminology.

  • The City Attorney knows the community better than the County District Attorney, and can better employ prosecutorial discretion.

  • The District Attorney and the State Attorney General may still prosecute if the City Attorney declines or if there is a conflict of interest.

 

Opponents say

  • There are too many issues having nothing to do with one another in one ballot measure.

  • The Measure requires the hiring of another City Attorney amid budget constraints.

  • There is the possibility for improper influence on the City Attorney’s office by elected officials since those officials hire and fire the City Attorney.

  • The current prosecutorial system has worked for decades and the proponents have not justified the added expense.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

If approved by the voters, the measure would amend the Charter to: (1) clarify the separation of administrative and Council functions by expanding upon the prohibition against interference by City Councilmembers with the City Manager’s duties; (2) authorize the City Attorney to prosecute State law misdemeanors; (3) replace gender references with gender-neutral language; and (4) delete provisions: (a) specifying that an office becomes vacant upon an elected or appointed official’s absence from the City without permission for more than 30 days; (b) requiring that appointments to certain boards and commissions be made between May 1 and July 1; and (c) relating to travel expenses and the hours of operation of City offices.

NO vote means

A NO vote means the Charter will not be amended.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Measure ___ amends and updates the Alameda City Charter to ensure good governance and transparency within the City of Alameda.  It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney. This Charter Amendment reinforces and clarifies our Council-Manager form of government, affirming the City Manager’s sole authority over personnel and procurement decisions, and explicitly prohibiting City Council Members from interfering with the City Manager’s duties. Any City Council Member who violates this Charter provision will be prosecuted under State law and, upon conviction, will forfeit their office. It also delegates to the City Attorney discretion to prosecute State law misdemeanors within City government, strengthening local control and accountability. Measure ____ replaces gendered terminology within the City Charter with gender neutral pronouns, to facilitate and signal a more inclusive and welcoming City and City government, and updates outdated language contained in the City Charter. 

We urge you to vote YES on Measure ___ to help the City of Alameda’s local government operate in an efficient, fair, inclusive, and transparent way.

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft Mayor, City of Alameda 

John Knox White Vice Mayor, City of Alameda 

Jim Oddie Alameda City Councilmember 

Malia Vella Alameda City Councilmember 

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

Section 7-3 would be amended as follows: Except for the purpose of inquiry, the City Council and its members, including the Mayor, shall deal with the administrative service under the City Manager and other appointed or elected officers solely through the City Manager or such other officer. Neither the City Council nor any member, including the Mayor, shall give orders to any subordinates under the jurisdiction of the City Manager or such other officers, either publicly or privately, nor shall they attempt to coerce or interfere, directly or indirectly, with the City Manager or such other officers, in respect to any contract, purchase of materials, or any other administrative action, nor shall they in any manner, directly or indirectly, direct, request or take part in the appointment, discipline, or removal of any employee by the City Manager or other such officers, or their subordinates. The City Council may further implement this section by ordinance, resolution, or rules of conduct. Violation of any provision of this section by a member of the Council, including the Mayor, shall be prosecuted as prescribed by State law, conviction of which shall immediately forfeit the office of the convicted member.   Neither the Council nor any of the members thereof shall interfere with the execution by the City Manager of his or her powers and duties. Except for purposes of inquiry, the Council and its members shall deal with that portion of the administrative service for which the City Manager is responsible solely through him or her. An attempt by a Councilmember to influence the City Manager in the making of any appointment or the purchase of any materials or supplies shall subject such Councilmember to removal from office for malfeasance. 

Section 8-2 would be amended as follows: The City Attorney shall have the authority and discretion to prosecute all violations of the ordinances of the City, and all misdemeanor offenses arising out of the laws of the State of California. The City Attorney  He   shall, subject to the general direction of the Council, board or elective officer having jurisdiction of the matter, prosecute and defend for the City, and all boards, officers and employees in their official capacity all proceedings before judicial or quasijudicial tribunals. The City AttorneyHe shall not compromise, settle or dismiss any action for or against the City without permission of the Council. The City Attorney He shall not commence any action without permission of the Council or written instruction of the City Manager. The City Attorney  He   shall be the legal advisor of and attorney and counsel for the City and for all officers and boards thereof, in all matters relating to their official duties, and whenever requested in writing by any of them, the City Attorney  he   shall give   his or her   legal advice in writing.

Section 2-9 would be amended as follows: If any elected or Council-appointed officer of the City who   shall remove from the City or absent himself or herself therefrom for more than thirty days consecutively without the permission of the Council, or   shall fail to qualify by taking the oath of office within fifteen days from the time his or her certificate of election or appointment is mailed or delivered to him or her, or shall resign, or be convicted of a felony, or be adjudged insane, his or her office shall be vacant. Section 2-15 would be deleted in its entirety in that those changes have been implemented: Repealed. All references to Councilman here in shall be changed to Councilmember.

Section 2-15 would be deleted in its entirety in that those changes have been implemented: Repealed.  All references to Councilman here in shall be changed to Councilmember. 

Section 2-16 would be amended as follows: In order to use gender neutral personal pronouns, aAll references to “he” shall be changed to “they” and “his” shall be changed to “his or her” shall be changed to “their”, and all references to “him” shall be changed to “him or her” shall be changed to “them”, and all references to “himself” shall be changed to “himself or herself” shall be changed to “themselves”, and all the references shall indicate a singular individual unless the context indicates to the contrary.

Section 10-2 would be amended as follows: Each of said Boards, except the Public Utilities Board, Social Service Human Relations Board and the City Planning Board shall consist of five members. Upon nomination of the Mayor, the Council shall appoint, between May 1 and July 1 of each year, one member of each such Board for a term commencing the first day of July following such appointment and continuing for four years, and thereafter until the successor of such member is appointed and qualified.

Section 10-3 would be amended as follows: The Public Utilities Board shall consist of five members, one of whom shall be the City Manager, who shall have full power of participating and voting. Upon nomination of the Mayor, the Council shall appoint, between May 1 and July 1 of each year, one member of such Board for a term commencing the first day of July following such appointment and continuing for four years and thereafter until the successor of such member is appointed and qualified.

Section 10-4 would be amended as follows: The Social Service Human Relations Board shall consist of seven members. Upon nomination of the Mayor, the Council shall appoint, between May 1 and July 1 of each year, at least two members of such Board for terms commencing on the first day of July following such appointment and continuing for four years and thereafter until the successor of such member is appointed and qualified

Section 10-4.1 would be amended as follows: The City Planning Board shall consist of seven members. Upon nomination of the Mayor, the Council shall appoint, between May 1 and July 1 of each year, such members as are necessary to maintain a full board, for terms commencing on the first day of July following such appointment and continuing for four years and thereafter until the successor of such member is appointed and qualified; provided, however, that nor more than two terms shall expire in any year other than by resignation of a member.

Section 22-7 would be deleted in its entirety in that these matters are handled through City administrative policies: RepealedTraveling expenses shall not exceed actual cost of transportation, plus a reasonable per diem allowance, the latter to be fixed annually by the Council uniformly for all officers and employees. Traveling expenses, except for routine duties, shall be allowed only if authorized by the Council.

Section 22-8 would be deleted in its entirety in that these days and hours are no longer the applicable days and hours when public offices are open and are better handled through administrative policies: RepealedAll public offices, except where otherwise provided by law, shall be open for business every day, except holidays, from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., subject to modification by Council.

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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure AA

Organizations (1)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure AA
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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