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Measure M Asks Voters to Consider Commission For Charter Changes

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, October 29, 2012

A city's charter dictates how the city's government is structured.   If Measure M passes, a commission would have two years to come up with a new charter and put its ideas on the ballot.

Fifty four people are running for the 15 seats that would be created if M passes.  The candidates range from political newcomers to long-time labor leaders.

Phillip Ung is with the advocacy group California Common Cause. He says M could yield an ethics commission -something he says the City Council has refused to create, "Well, when you have a charter commission that allows anybody to run. You're going to see some candidates that are in favor of specific special interests.  But, one thing that you can see is that the opponents of Measure M are the absolute special interests right now that are influencing Sacramento elections or Sacramento politics."

Measure M is the Sacramento City Council's response to Mayor Johnson's "strong mayor" proposal.  Johnson wanted to have hiring and budget controls like an executive, but political opponents on the council balked at the idea.

Steve Maviglio works for the mayor -who is still opposed to the measure, "Even some of the people who are running for it are actually opposed to it because they know the problems it could create. But, they wanted to have a fail-safe option in case it does pass.  Every poll we've seen says it's gonna fail because voters don't want to spend that kind of money creating a commission that has a blank slate in terms of policy."

The City of Los Angeles created its own charter commission about 15 years ago.  Robert Greene is an editor with the Los Angeles Times.  "The city council has less power even if they're supposed to have more of an oversight roll and less of an executive roll,.  Things are running not much different than they were before."

In 2009, a Sacramento charter review committee suggested changes that would have given the mayor more authority -but with council approval.  The council did not act on those suggestions.  
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