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Wednesday’s Sac Press Live: Is the charter commission a good idea or a waste of time?

The ballot measure to create an elected charter commission has generated some of the most heated debate this fall, and it will be the subject of our Sac Press Live chat on Wednesday.

Critics have scoffed at Measure M, calling it an unnecessary distraction, while supporters see it as a way of opening up the political process and putting the strong mayor initiative on the back burner.

We’ll have Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who has been vocal in her opposition, and blogger-activist and charter commission candidate Isaac Gonzalez on for a Google+ Hangout to chat about it at 12:15 p.m. (We’re working on rounding up more participants and will have an update shortly. Someone page Cosmo Garvin.)

If you have a question or comment that you’d like us to discuss during the chat, please leave it below. We’re more likely to read comments that come from verified community contributors.


On Nov. 6 voters will choose to vote in favor of creating the commission or not, and will also be allowed to vote for the 15 candidates they want to serve on the body. Commissioners will have up to two years to go through the city charter and suggest any changes.

Arguments in favor and opposed via the City’s election page:

Argument in favor of Measure M:

Voting Yes on Measure M will give Sacramentans the opportunity to study our City’s Charter and potentially reshape and improve how our local government works. 

In recent years, there has been much debate around controversial proposals that would dramatically change how our city is governed.

Instead of making important changes to Sacramento’s City Charter behind closed doors like the strong mayor initiative was launched-Measure M would create an elected charter commission of local citizens working through a transparent process to review how our city government works.

Too often we hear complaints about special interests controlling the process.  Measure M would provide an open and formal process to study how our local government works and research potential changes that might improve our city. It will allow Sacramentans to have a voice in the process and an opportunity to vote on any suggested changes to the charter.

The City of Los Angeles used a charter review commission to improve its governance by adding an ethics commission and empowering neighborhood councils, among other reforms. Sacramento may be ripe for similar reforms. The cost of the commission has been questioned.

Let’s be clear- Measure M would create a temporary commission comprised of unpaid citizen commissioners using current city resources. No new staff would be hired. No new bureaucracy would be created. Sacramento may not be clamoring for charter change, but voters must have a chance to decide, to say yes or no. Isn’t the establishment of the charter commission an open method to answer these questions?

Yes on M will allow fifteen unpaid commissioners to review the city charter and bring any proposed recommendations back to Sacramentans for a public vote. This is democracy at its best – transparent, responsive and holding public institutions accountable. Let Democracy work- Vote Yes on Measure M.

Argument against:

Due to record deficits, $15.7 million this fiscal year alone, and another projected $7.6 million deficit next year, the City of Sacramento has made severe cuts to services to balance its budget. As a result, three fire stations are browned out every day. More than 160 police officers have been laid off. Nine Community Centers that served seniors and youth are closed. The City Animal Shelter is open half days.

The Parks Department’s budget has been slashed in half and all 12 city pools are slated for closure next summer. The Building Department has had service cuts, making it difficult for businesses and homeowners to pull permits and schedule inspections.

Despite the fact that Sacramento has a budget shortfall, a few Councilmembers pushed Measure M to the ballot at a cost of over $200,000. If Measure M passes, it will cost a minimum of $600,000 to implement, and risks millions more. Why spend tax dollars to create a new bureaucracy with no accountability, no oversight, no transparency, and no requirement for an outcome?

This flawed measure is modeled after a 15-member commission that cost the City of Los Angeles more than $1.8 million dollars in the 1990’s (the equivalent of $2.5 million today). Measure M will likely cost Sacramento even more in legal fees. Similar measures have been rejected by courts as unconstitutional because Measure M does not guarantee equal representation for all neighborhoods, a violation of the Voter’s Rights act.

In June, 2012, The Sacramento Bee wrote: “Pull the Plug on Elected Charter Commission. An elected charter commission is a bad idea for Sacramento at the wrong time.” We agree.

Join small business, firefighters, police officers, community and neighborhood leaders from throughout Sacramento. Vote NO on M.

To keep up with Sac Press Live chats, add us on Google+


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