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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Berkeley
Measure JJ Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

35,742 votes yes (64.62%)

19,573 votes no (35.38%)

100% of precincts reporting (33/33).

Shall the measure amending the City Charter to provide that compensation for the office of Mayor be set at Alameda County's median three-person household income from the California Department of Housing and Community Development and that of Councilmembers maintained at 63% of the Mayor's compensation, with annual increases based on changes in Area Median Income, but which may be lowered for unexcused Council meeting absences or negotiated salary reductions for City employees, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

FARIMAH FAIZ BROWN Berkeley City Attorney

City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure JJ 

This Charter Amendment was placed on the ballot by the City Council. 

Current Law 

The Berkeley City Charter provides that the Mayor is paid at a rate of $2,850 per month, and City Councilmembers are paid at a rate of $1,800 per month.  These amounts were set in December 1998, and have been adjusted upward based upon the increase in the cost of living for the San Francisco Bay Area.  As a result, the Mayor is currently paid at a rate of $61,304 per year, and Councilmembers are currently paid at a rate of $38,695 per year. 

The Mayor and Councilmembers are paid for each regular meeting attended that month in an amount based upon their monthly salary divided by the number of regular meetings in that month.  If the Mayor or a Councilmember is absent from a regular Council meeting, they do not receive the per-meeting salary payment for that meeting. However, the Mayor or Councilmember can be excused by the Council in order to attend to official City business, or for up to two regular meetings per year due to illness, without being subject to this salary reduction. 

The Proposed Charter Amendment 

The proposed Charter Amendment would amend the City Charter to provide that the Mayor’s salary would be set at the same rate as the median income for a three-person household in Alameda County.  Councilmembers’ salaries would be set at 63% of the Mayor’s salary, which would maintain the existing proportionate relationship between the salaries for each position.  Based upon current income information for Alameda County, the Mayor’s annual income would be expected to be approximately $107,300, with Councilmembers’ salaries set at approximately $67,599.  These amounts would be subject to annual adjustments based upon changes in the area’s median income.  

Under the Charter Amendment, if the City and organizations representing City employees agree to change employee compensation in order to reduce costs, the City Personnel Board will be required to review and amend the Mayor’s and Councilmembers’ salaries to achieve comparable cost sav ings.   

The Charter Amendment would also expand the situations in which the Mayor or a Councilmember could be excused from attending a regular Council meeting without being subject to a salary reduction by allowing the Mayor or a Councilmember to be excused by the Council for up to two regular meetings in a year due to the illness or death of a close family member.  

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure JJ. 

s/FARIMAH FAIZ BROWN Berkeley City Attorney 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE JJ 

Measure JJ would promote diverse representation of our community on the City Council and help remove money from politics.  

Berkeley’s new public financing of elections makes it possible for candidates with important perspectives to run but the very low compensation makes it impossible for many to serve. Single parents, young people without generational wealth, people of color and working-class residents are hindered by the compensation, which was set over 20 years ago and has not kept pace with area cost-of-living.  

Measure JJ creates a formula tying the Mayor’s compensation to that of a low-income household ($107,300) and Councilmembers to a very low-income household ($67,599). Using a formula avoids political influence in setting compensation. The total cost would be about $277,000 annually. 

Councilmembers presently receive $38,695/year and the Mayor $61,304, which places them at the extremely low-income and low-income level in Alameda County. Meanwhile, the average rent in the city has risen to $3,183 per month. Councilmembers without wealth have to rely on a secondary source of income — a second job, a partner’s income or accumulated assets — to be able to live in the districts they represent.  

The Mayor and Council oversee a $450 million budget, develop policy with colleagues through policy committees, represent the community at regular and special City Council meetings and serve constituents. The current structure assumes that the Mayor and Councilmembers are compensated only for attending regular Council meetings, vastly understating the time spent in other critical duties.  

Berkeley is a world-renowned leader in many things, including bold legislation. Our residents expect their legislators to approach this job with their whole energy and mind. Reasonable compensation that allows leaders from diverse backgrounds to answer the call to service is a key to equitable, accessible and effective government.  

Please join us in voting YES on Measure JJ. 

s/Gordon Wozniak former Councilmember, District 8 

s/Daniel G. Newman Author of Berkeley’s public campaign finance system and the book “Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy” 

s/Khin Chin President, SEIU 1021 Community Services Chapter & Part Time Recreation Leaders Association 

s/Ellen G. Widess Former Chief of Division of Occupational Safety & Health, CA Labor Agency 

s/Mansour Id-Deen President - Berkeley NAACP 

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE JJ 

How many of you have had your salary and benefits nearly doubled recently? 

By voting yes on Measure JJ, you would be giving the Mayor and each Councilmember a 75% raise amid a great budget crisis. 

In a recent City survey 47% of Berkeley voters like you reported that you’ve been seriously hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

You’re losing livelihoods and businesses, homes and careers – something that a 75% raise for elected officials will do nothing to help. 

Now is not the time for a 75% raise. 

Raises should reflect performance. 

  • Are your streets better paved, cleaner and safer?
  • Are your parks, marina and waterfront more vibrant?
  • Are local businesses thriving?

No, they are not. 

Now is not the time for a 75% raise.  

Please vote NO on Measure JJ. 

s/Jessica Behrman 44-year Berkeley resident and worker.

s/Kenneth Berland 13-year Berkeley resident, attorney, engineering manager.

s/Charles Clarke 6-year Berkeley resident

s/Theodore Edlin Former Chair Housing Advisory Commission / Member Fire Commission Now Disaster & Fire Safety Commission 

s/Eric Friedman Twenty Year Berkeley Resident 

Replies to Arguments FOR

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE JJ 

A recent Community Survey found 44% of Berkeley’s voters reported decreased household income during the pandemic. Now is not the time for the 75% raise that Measure JJ would grant Berkeley’s politicians.  

Proponents say Berkeley’s legislators would “approach this job with their whole energy and mind” in exchange for a 75% raise. But Measure JJ fails to write this “full time” job description into the City Charter. 

Proponents say leaders like the Mayor and Councilmembers would “answer the call to service” for 75% more money, which makes us wonder what they’re doing now. 

For example, for the past 7 years the Council has overseen a General Fund that each year has provided repairs to only 1 of Berkeley’s 216 crumbling street-miles, even in good times. Their performance does not merit a 75% raise now. 

Since 1998 the Charter has required that Council compensation be “adjusted upward by the increase in the cost of living for the San Francisco Bay Area.” But proponents claim that Council compensation “has not kept pace with area cost-of-living.” Have proponents checked the Charter? 

The compensation formula that proponents say “avoids political influence” is just a roundabout way to raise Council salaries 75%. Measure JJ would allegedly “help remove money from politics” by removing more of your money for Council’s benefit. 

The path forward is for the Mayor and Councilmembers to really take care of the City’s business, and come back when Berkeley is not hurting so badly. 

Please vote NO on Measure JJ. 

s/Jessica Behrman 44-year Berkeley resident and worker

s/Kenneth Berland 13-year Berkeley resident, attorney, engineering manager

s/Charles Clarke Current market-rate tenant and former barista in Berkeley 

s/Ted Edlin Former Chair Housing Advisory Commission / Member Fire Commission 

s/Eric Friedman Twenty-year Berkeley resident 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE JJ 

We all know there is never a good time to ask your boss (in this case, you, the voters) for a raise, particularly given the tough economic times caused by COVID-19. But it is especially during this time of uncertainty and inequality that Berkeley needs broad and proactive representation. 

Measure JJ promotes good government by making it possible for Berkeley residents, regardless of their wealth, to serve their community as elected officials. 

Twenty years have passed without meaningfully adjusting the Mayor and Council salaries. Housing costs have skyrocketed in the Bay Area. Councilmembers’ current compensation would qualify them for food stamps and subsidized housing. At the same time, the work of Councilmembers and the Mayor is much more complex and involved than when compensation was last set in 1998, making it difficult for them to work at other jobs. The total cost of $280,000 per year is only 0.06% of the city’s total $450 million budget – a small price to pay for elected oversight and governance. 

Measure JJ would compensate councilmembers at a modest 60% of the median household income in Alameda County. The measure also gives the Personnel Board the authority to reduce Council and Mayor compensation if city employees take pay cuts in a downturn. Current city law does not allow this. 

Measure JJ ensures that people with varied experiences, perspectives, and income levels can serve. Amidst a national conversation around racial justice, diversity of backgrounds in our leadership has never been more important. 

Please join your neighbors in voting “yes” on Measure JJ. 

s/Gordon Wozniak former Councilmember, District 8  

s/Jack Kurzweil Administrative Coordinator, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club 

s/Julia Cato Chair BTU Steering Committee 

s/Mansour Id-Deen President – Berkeley NAACP 

s/Elizabeth Grubb President of Cal Berkeley Democrats 

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

AMENDMENTS TO ARTICLE V OF THE BERKELEY CITY CHARTER RELATED TO SALARIES FOR THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL

 

The People of the City of Berkeley hereby amend Section 19 of the Charter of the City of Berkeley to read as follows:

 

Section 1. Section 19 of Article V of the Charter of the City of Berkeley related to the salaries for Mayor and Councilmembers is amended to read as follows:

 

Section 19. Salaries.

 

The MayorCouncilmembers shall receive remuneration for the performance of their official duties at the Alameda County median income for a three-person household and Councilmembers at 63% of that amount, with annual adjustments based on adjustments to the area median income.at the rate of up to $1,800 per month, and the Mayor shall receive up to $2,850 per month, effective the Council term beginning in December 1998. Such amount shall be adjusted upward by the increase in the cost of living for the San Francisco Bay Area as verified by official United States economic reports.

 

If the City and employee organizations agree to amend the compensation provisions of existing memoranda of understanding to reduce costs, the Personnel Board shall review and amend the Mayor and Councilmembers' salary as necessary to achieve comparable cost savings in the affected fiscal year or years.

 

Either the Mayor or any Councilmember may, at his or hertheir sole discretion, reduce the remuneration paid himself or herselfthemselves. In any such case, the difference between the reduced amount actually paid to such Mayor or Councilmember and the amount of remuneration authorized by this Article shall be appropriated as part of the budget of the Mayor or Councilmember taking the voluntary reduction in remuneration and such differential may be expended for any purpose otherwise authorized for the expenditure of sums so budgeted. If the Mayor or any member of the Council is absent from one or more regular meetings of the Council during any calendar month, unless excused by the Council in order to attend to official business of the City, or unless excused by the Council as a result of their own illness or the illness or death of a “close  family member” as defined in the City’s bereavement policy from attending no more than two regular meetings in any calendar year, he or she shall be paid for each regular meeting attended during such months in an amount equal to the monthly remuneration divided by the number of regular meetings held during such month.

 

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