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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA May 1, 2007 Election
Proposition F
Revised Duties of City Prosecutor
City of Long Beach

Charter Amendment

12,749 / 59.1% Yes votes ...... 8,815 / 40.9% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Summary | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall Proposition F, which amends the Long Beach City Charter by removing the duty of the City Prosecutor to prosecute hearings before the Civil Service Commission, be adopted?

Summary Prepared by LWV Long Beach Area
Education Fund:

The Way It Is Now: The City Charter now requires that the Prosecutor prosecute, attend and conduct all hearings before the Civil Service Commission on behalf of the City managers or other appointing authorities.

What Measure F would do: The City Charter would be amended to delete these duties related to the Civil Service Commission.

Proponents say:

  • Proposition F will enhance prosecution by allowing the Prosecutor more time to perform duties devoted to preventing and prosecuting crime.
  • It will improve efficiency by increasing the number of misdemeanor hearings the Department can handle.
  • It will eliminate ethical conflicts involving police officers who could be making an appeal of a disciplinary action before the Commission one day and asked to testify by the same prosecutor the next day as a witness at a criminal trial.

Opponents say:

  • No good reason for this change has been stated, and prop F does not clarify how the prosecutor’s role would be filled.
  • This issue should not require a Charter amendment.
  • Prop F makes a small and non-urgent change which does not alter the basic structure of city government.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney Robert E. Shannon
Voter approval of Proposition F would amend Section 703 of the Long Beach City Charter, relating to certain duties of the City Prosecutor.

Presently, the Long Beach City Charter requires that, among other duties, the office of the City Prosecutor shall prosecute, attend and conduct on behalf of the City Manager and other appointing authorities, all hearings before the Civil Service Commission. The proposed amendment would eliminate this duty from the office of the City Prosecutor.

  Official Information

City of Long Beach
Local Facts

City Profile
LWV Long Beach Presents Live 'Pros & Cons' on the Ballot Measures

date: Saturday, April 21
time: 10 am - 12 noon
place: Los Altos Library, 5614 Britton Dr
plus: short presentation on the city Budget for fiscal 2008 by David Wodynski, Bureau Manager, Budget and Performance Management Bureau
more info: LWV Long Beach Area
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Arguments For Proposition F Arguments Against Proposition F
Under the City Charter, the primary mission of the City Prosecutor's Office is to prosecute all adult misdemeanors committed in Long Beach. As an additional duty, the Charter requires the City Prosecutor to represent city management in employee disciplinary appeals before the Civil Service Commission. Requiring the city's criminal prosecutor to perform the duties of a labor lawyer in civil service cases is inefficient, creates potential ethical conflicts and causes unnecessary friction in the prosecution process. The City Prosecutor's resources should be devoted to preventing and prosecuting crimes. A YES vote on Proposition F will eliminate civil service hearings from the City Prosecutor's duties.

Currently, prosecutors have to be trained in municipal labor law, a specialty that already exists in the City Attorney's Office. Due to preparation and scheduling requirements, a prosecutor is tied up full-time handling 60-70 civil service appeals a year. In court, this same prosecutor can handle 100 misdemeanor hearings each day. Clearly, deputy prosecutors are more efficient handling criminal cases in the courtroom than handling civil service appeals.

The law requires prosecutors to turn over certain information about witnesses in criminal cases, including police officers. A significant number of civil service appeals involve police officers. This means that deputy prosecutors may oppose a police officer's civil service appeal one day and call that same officer as a witness in a criminal trial the next. This situation raises ethical issues for prosecutors and is a constant source of friction with police officers.

City Prosecutor Tom Reeves
Long Beach City Prosecutor's Office

Rebuttal to Arguments For
See rebuttal to argument in favor of Prop. A. Prop. F is a minor non-urgent proposition. If it were presented at a regular election, without the costs and inconvenience of this special election, it might merit passage (after questions raised in the opposing argument were all answered).

But for now, your No vote can send a more important message. Council has no business wasting a million dollars and creating voter inconvenience for this extra and utterly non-urgent election.

Mathematical and Statistical Analyst

In its call to this election, the City Council did not even bother to issue a 'whereas' declaration of need and urgency to justify the big extra cost to the city and the notable extra inconvenience to voters. Council also offered no 'whereas' justifications for any one of the particular eight propositions it wants voters to rubber-stamp, or for the choice just of these and not of others, such as the proposed independent LBUSD operations auditor.

So this election and its propositions are the Council's million-dollar tax-paid solution. But the Council didn't bother to state what is the problem.

One instance is Prop. F, which removes one role of the City Prosecutor. Prof. F may well have good reason, but none has (as of the time of this writing) been stated. Nor does Prop. F clarify how that role would instead be filled - if indeed it need still be filled. And why couldn't transfer of the role to another office be done by inter-office memorandum-of-understanding rather than charter change?

Even if good answers emerge on all these issues, Prop. F makes a small and non-urgent change which does not alter the basic structure of city government.

A No vote will send two clear messages:

We the voters are not mere rubber stamps.
Before it casually orders up a special election, Council must give itself and everyone explicit good reasons both for each of the proposals offered, and for incurring the election costs and inconveniences.


Rebuttal to Arguments Against
There are at least 2 million reasons why the City should have this election in May 2007 and not in February 2008. That's how much additional money (at least $ 2 million) the City will get FOR PUBLIC SAFETY if the oil production tax is approved in May 2007. Money for PUBLIC SAFTEY IS NEEDED NOW + but it takes a citywide election to get it. It makes good sense to include charter changes in this election - especially in the case of Prop F - which improves criminal prosecution and therefore PUBLIC SAFETY.

The need for Proposition F was explained at two community meetings and in writing to the City Council. It is not necessary, and would actually create future problems, to specify an alternative Civil Service representative for City Management in the City Charter. As the legal advisor for all city departments including Civil Service, the City Attorney can readily make arrangements to represent management at Civil Service.

The duties imposed by the City Charter cannot be transferred by an "inter-office memorandum-of-understanding". That's like saying the duties of the State Assembly can be transferred to the State Senate by a memo + it just doesn't work that way.

The City Prosecutor has said that Proposition F is necessary to eliminate potential conflicts of interest and to enhance the efficient prosecution of crimes. These are not "small" or "non-urgent" reasons for changing the charter! Vote YES on Proposition F.

Tom Reeves
Long Beach City Prosecutor
Long Beach City Prosecutor's Office

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Created: July 30, 2007 17:52 PDT
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