Over the past few months we have listened or read opinions in favor of and against Measure A which would give the City of Auburn a charter or mini-constitution for the conduct of municipal business. Those arguing against a yes vote have tried to raise all kinds of doubt about what might happen to our city if the charter is adopted. By trying to compare the voters of Auburn with those in Bell and Vernon they are suggesting the voters of Auburn aren’t capable of keeping an eye on what the city council is doing. In my opinion this attempt to demean the voters of Auburn will not work.
Read Ryan Hickey's position against Measure A here.
When the issue of a charter first came up almost two years ago I had some initial doubts about the need and advantages of a charter, but I voted to put it on the ballot for you to decide. While the method of writing the draft charter was of some concern to me I believe it was fully vetted by both those in the community and those from outside the community. When the city attorney was asked to develop both pros and cons about a city charter he did just that, but the forces against the charter only seem to focus on the cons of the argument.
What do the most significant items in the charter offer you? (1) Greater control over local affairs and better protection from lawmakers in Sacramento which is dominated by big city legislators. (2) Possible significant savings in local public works projects. (3) Continued use of local volunteers working to improve the quality of life in our city without having to pay them wages.
Now comes word that another city about the size of Auburn is considering a charter for future adoption. According to the Coast News, a local paper in San Luis Obispo County, the City of Grover Beach city council has voted to move forward with plans to become a charter city. Grover Beach has about the same population as Auburn and heavily relies on tourism. The Grover Beach city manager has stated, in part, that the charter “will be tailored to the specific needs of the city itself and to cover the municipal affairs that it wishes to cover while leaving the remainder of the areas to state oversight” much as Auburn’s proposed charter will do.
On a historical note, the City of Auburn has been incorporated twice, first in 1860, but was disincorporated in 1868 in a dispute over some bonds the city had purchased to support railroad construction. Our current incorporation began in 1888 and we will be celebrating 125 years of incorporation in 2013. I urge you to vote yes on Measure A this June 5th. I make this promise to you. If the “doom and gloom” predictions made by the opponents of Measure A become fact, I will lead the charge to repeal the city charter and revert back to a general law city.
Mike Holmes is an Auburn city councilman.