Another View: Boilerplate not good for us

By: Joseph Labrie, Auburn city clerk
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What you don?t now will hurt you. Mayor (Kevin) Hanley says this is the best charter in the state. Not so. This is a template with a few of his own revisions. There are at least two other charters in California that are virtually identical. This council refused to allow a citizens? charter committee. They said the 10 public hearings were enough. Not so. There is no mention of term limits, even after I brought it up. There is no mention of eminent domain, even after Eisley Nursery went through hell regarding this issue. They brought a petition to the city clerk?s office with over 1,000 signatures. They jammed the council chamber three times with their loyal supporters. I told the audience, if they wanted to make certain this city would not take their property, that they should take the power away from the council by putting a measure on the ballot. Sorry folks, that isn?t enough. Any resolution passed by the council can, at any time, be rescinded by this or any subsequent council, whenever it suits their whim. The lawmakers can create all the laws they want, but they can never override the voters. This charter, from inception to now, is anti-union, anti-labor and anti-prevailing wage. The council talks about ?outside interests.? The Yes on Measure A side claims the ?outside interests? are major corporations and unions. These major corporations are in the hundreds and their union members number over 80,000, including Auburn and surrounding areas. So what?s wrong with that? Now let?s look at the ?other? side of this coin. The so-called ?local? interests are mainly represented by local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce. Most local businesses here are non-union and non-prevailing wage. Which of these two sides has more interest in the advancement of the working man? It appears to me that this council is not only anxious to join the race to the bottom, but to lead it. The proposed charter states that the city council cannot give themselves a raise. Very good. But what about their relatives and business friends and cronies serving on various committees? No mention of that. What about double-dipping? Recently, after the previous police chief retired, the city re-hired her to the tune of over $2,500 per week whenever the current chief is away or on vacation. In two weeks, that?s $1,760 more than the city clerk?s pay for an entire year (excluding health benefits). What about the next person in line at the police department? That wouldn?t cost the city anything. It?s not what?s just in the charter, but what is not. These are only a few of my concerns. This charter is incomplete, full of loopholes and glaring omissions. This is not the charter we want. It was written by politicians and for politicians and their cronies and hastily written in time for the June ballot when far fewer people vote (and they have a better chance of winning). I?ve been your elected city clerk for over 11 years now; I?ve seen councils come and go; I?ve attended more council meetings than any councilmember and have only missed four meetings in all that time. I?ve learned to read between the lines. This charter has more between the lines than written. This is a half-charter; and like most half-truths, it is full of concealments, omissions and deceptions. I am not against a charter, but I am against this one. If we really want a charter, let?s have one crafted by the people. Let?s do it right.