Tomorrow night, the Anaheim City Council will take up the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission. The staff recommendation is to package the recommendations into four ballot measures and proposed ballot summary language is proposed – which, if actually used, will probably doom these charter amendments to defeat.
Measure 1 is essentially a bundling of charter amendments sought by city staff, which fall mainly into the category of modernizing and streamlining city government operations. Here is the proposed ballot language:
If Measure 1 appears on the ballot like this, it will very likely be rejected by the voters. Keep in mind that this is all the information upon which many, if not most, voters will base their decision.
- “Address methods of setting City Manager’s compensation”? That sends up a red flag the minds of voters in the post-Bell era.
- “Clarify and validate application of utility rate transfer to retail rates” – what does that even mean?
- “Authorize methods for sale of municipal property?”
This language doesn’t so much inform voters as produce questions and confusion, and voter confusion tends to produce “no” votes.
Changing mayoral terms from two to four years is addressed in the proposed Measure 2:
The first part is straight forward, but the rest confuses more than it informs.
The proposed Measure 3 pertains to the CRC’s recommendation for eliminating term limits:
Unlike Measures 1 and 2, Measure 3 is fairly straightforward – which won’;t save it from defeat in the unlikely event the city council places it on the June ballot. I soured on term limits years ago and think voters ought to be free to re-elect (or not) mayors and councilmembers for as long as they like. Voters like term limits because they don’t (generally speaking) like politicians. There would be no organized campaign in favor of it, and very likely a funded voter communication against it. If the council places it on the ballot, it would almost certainly lose.
Measure 4 places the CRC recommendation to legalize safe and sane fireworks before the voters:
This is the clearest of the measures by virtue of the relative simplicity of the issue: do Anaheim voters want to be able to celebrate the Fourth of July with their own fireworks, or not? Presumably, fireworks manufacturers will fund a “yes” campaign, and my guess is it would have the unanimous support of the mayor and city council.
As currently drafted, I think Measure 4 is the only one with a chance of being approved by the voters in June. Measure 1 is the most technical, least controversial and most staff-driven measure – but ironically, also the most likely to go down unless it is either undergoes a complete re-write or is split up into tow or more measures to allow for a more informative presentation.