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Group says it hopes to stop misinformation about charter

Draft amendments to be discussed Monday
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn’s potential charter, pre-zoning of Foresthill Avenue property and a World War II monument are only some of the items residents can expect at Monday’s City Council meeting. City Attorney Michael Colantuono is expected to bring back an amended version of a draft city charter proposal, originally prepared by Councilman Kevin Hanley. The suggested charter has been a topic of heated debate at recent City Council meetings. Union workers have spoken in opposition to the charter allowing the city to potentially pay less than the state’s prevailing wage on municipal projects. Changes to the document will be discussed, and the council will decide what final form of the charter will be placed on the June 5, 2012 ballot. At the Aug. 8 meeting the council unanimously approved putting some form of the charter on the ballot. Some of the changes to the draft include stating that the current elected city clerk and city treasurer will serve out their terms before new qualifications for the positions and a new ordinance directing how they would be filled would go into effect. Another change states that council members will continue to choose who will be the mayor and vice mayor. Colantuono also points out in his changes to the draft that with bid preference on city projects the council can pass an ordinance to attach an assigned distance or radius from the city to the preference. Recently an Operating Engineers Retiree Association flyer with the slogan “Say no to the charter!” was sent to Auburn residents, and a Facebook page and website, auburncharteralert.org, warn viewers how its creators feel a charter could negatively impact Auburn. A group of local resident is hoping to clear up the “misinformation” spread through these publications, according to its current leader. Bob Snyder, a planning commissioner for the city and member of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce board, is leading the formation of the group. “We’ve come together and are talking about the misinformation that is out there and how we can make sure that it’s not continued,” Snyder said. “We can’t stop it from coming, but we can try to clear it up. That one flyer was so misleading, it was actually shocking to us they would do that when they knew better.” Snyder said a big part of the issue is that those who have created the publications against the charter are not easy to get in touch with. “What we really want is a fair discussion of the issue, whether a charter is good for Auburn or not, and not be inundated by false information from people we don’t even know,” he said. “If I wanted to call them, I have no idea how to call them or who they are or anything like that. It’s a little strange.” Snyder said the group is currently figuring out how to get information out while staying within the requirements of the Fair Political Practices Commission. “I think it’s going to take the shape of almost like a political … campaign committee that would get the message out about what the charter really means for Auburn and react to any additional negative stuff,” Snyder said. “If they do it again, we want to make sure we are ready to respond with letters to the editor and that sort of thing.” George Coe, also a member of the group, said he feels it’s important to set the record straight and educate the community about what a charter could mean for the city. “The gist of it is that we need to have the freedom to control what happens here, and we need to be able to resist inroads from outside forces that have no interest in the community,” Coe said. “They have a vested interest in self promotion and self advantage, and we can’t afford it.” Also on the council agenda is the potential lease for the Placer County Visitor’s Bureau and California Welcome Center in the Old City Hall building. The council is also set to consider a general plan amendment and pre-zone of properties at 880 and 890 Foresthill Ave. The council also plans to discuss a WWII monument on city-owned property next to Wing’s Restaurant, as well as a Sept. 11 memorial at City Hall. In closed session the council is expected to hear reports on the Ronald Fisher and Judy Fisher v. City of Auburn and Auburn Police Officers’ Association v. City of Auburn court cases. The Fishers’ case involves a couple on Knoll Street expanding their property into an alley while allegedly not getting the city’s permission, according to Colantuono. Colantuono said the city’s appeal brief in the Police Officers Association case is due at the end of the month, and he plans to give the council a status report. The case stems from the union’s previous memorandum of understanding in which Colantuono says the city agreed to give the officers two raises, but the city could opt out of giving them if it didn’t have the money to do so. Colantuono said the city was not able to give the raises and the union came back and said that the city was not supposed to opt out of one of them. Colantuono said it could take about five or six months to finish the briefing process in the case and about a year to get an argument date with the court. The court would then have 90 days to decide on the issue. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Auburn City Council meeting When: 6 p.m. Monday Where: Council chambers at Auburn City Hall, 1225 Lincoln Way