I rarely write to express my views in public and for those who know me know I reserve my opinion to face-to-face verbal debates. However, I am making this exception because of the fact I was taken to court along with Rev Raymond Turner, Rachel Mendoza-Clark (city clerk) and David Kennedy, (city treasurer) for signing the rebuttal in favor of Measure C that the voters received in the voters guide. I want to thank the four council members, Virginia Marquez, Tobin Brinker, Fred Shorett and Rikke Van Johnson, who listened to our reasoning and voted to have Measure C placed on the ballot.
I was one of the original people to talk about changing the charter because of what I witness at each meeting of the council over the past several years. I, like others, thought it was important to elect these positions.
Even with the last time there was a opportunity to change the charter, I opposed it for many of the same reasons many oppose this change, prior to then I saw no need to have these positions appointed. I changed that opinion when I concluded that structure of the city needed to be changed in order for business to thrive; political agendas were at the root cause of arguments and confusion that led to prolonged meetings with no other purpose than to control the legislative body and feed a personal ego. I suspected duplication of budgets and when I got the accurate information under the Freedom of Information Act my suspicions were confirmed to be true. The city attorney’s budget has duplicate police and code enforcement personnel as well as high administrative costs. The city attorney and council member Wendy McCammack have agreed that there is duplication of positions in the city attorney’s office.
Additionally there are no restrictions on qualifications to be city treasurer or city clerk, under the charter whoever gets the most votes (qualified or not) can run those very important departments. Thank God, we have two very competent people now but again it is the structure that needs to be changed and professionalized.
The charter change will help save the city millions of dollars and with our finances being what they are we can use all the savings we can get. One issue brought up in court that was concluded to be false is that Jim Penman wanted to protect his $200,000 salary and his $100,000 a year pension. He pointed out to the Judge and rightly so that his $100,000 pension is going to be paid to him whether or not Measure C passes. He says after 23 years he deserves the taxpayer funded retirement package.
He still claims he won the court case but he is the one on the hook to pay all of the court costs.
In addition to saving money, is the need for more professionalism in these office holder positions especially that of city attorney. To use a quote recently used by the Minister of Mining in Chile on why they were able to rescue the 33 trapped miners is “we had great professional experts, excellent people, and a united team with a single goal”. This is essential if we are to become the city we want and know we can become.
As a person of faith I was very concerned with the city attorneys’ actions toward the faith community starting with his actions at First Nazarene Church and now Pastor Raymond Turner of Temple Missionary Baptist Church.
In my rebuttal I said “The system is broken and we should stop politicians from spending almost 3 times more than other cities on bureaucratic functions like attorneys and clerks.” Join with me and vote yes on Measure C which is for CHANGING the city to a more PROFFESSIONAL way to the get legal advice, stop duplication of services and prevent non qualified persons for seeking office as city clerk or treasurer. Vote YES on Measure C.
Cheryl R. Brown
Co-Publisher, Black Voice News