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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
San Diego County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Proposition Q
Elected City Attorney Amendment
City of Chula Vista

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 43017 / 58.84% Yes votes ...... 30094 / 41.16% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of Jan 24 10:40am
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the Charter of the City of Chula Vista be amended to make the City Attorney an elected City Officer, sufficiently independent of the Council and other City officials?

Impartial Analysis from the City Attorney
This proposition would amend Sections 500 and 503 of the City Charter to make the City Attorney an elected City officer. This proposition would also change the City Attorney's minimum qualifications, powers and compensation.

The Charter currently authorizes the City Council to appoint the City Attorney, establish the salary for the City Attorney and remove the City Attorney by majority vote. The Charter currently requires the City Attorney to be licensed to practice law in California and establishes the powers and duties of the City Attorney.

This proposition would make the City Attorney an elected rather than an appointed City officer. The City Attorney would be nominated and elected to a four-year term in the same manner and at the same election as members of the Council. The Council would establish the City Attorney's compensation, but such compensation could not be less than the median compensation of the city attorneys of the six California cities whose populations are closest to the City's population, provided that three are higher and three are lower. The City Attorney's compensation during a term could only be reduced in proportion to and as part of a general reduction of City salaries. The Council could only declare the City Attorney's Office vacant for specified reasons, and would be required to appoint or call an election to fill such a vacancy, as specified.

To qualify as City Attorney under this proposition, a person must be a United States citizen, a qualified elector, and a California resident, licensed to practice law in California for at least seven years prior to assuming office.

This proposition would also authorize the City Attorney to exercise discretion to commence or maintain legal proceedings, subject to Council's approval or ratification. It would delete a provision of the current Charter that authorizes the Council to control all City legal business and legal proceedings. The proposition provides that, in addition to the Council and other City officers, the City Attorney shall advise all City boards, commissions, and other City agencies and render written legal opinions when requested in writing. The City Attorney would be authorized to employ experts and, when empowered by Council, special legal counsel. When the City Attorney has a conflict of interest in litigation involving another City office, such other officer could retain special legal counsel at the City's expense, upon the City Attorney's recommendation and with Council approval. This proposition clarifies that the City Attorney may remove unclassified City Attorney appointed officers or employees. This proposition does not limit the Council's budgetary authority regarding City Attorney supervised officers and employees.

If this proposition is approved by a majority vote, the current City Attorney or successor would continue to be qualified to hold office under the current Charter and general laws until the next general election in June of 2010 and the first elected City Attorney would assume office for a four-year term commencing on the first Tuesday of December of 2010.

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Arguments For Proposition Q Arguments Against Proposition Q
Chula Vista is becoming a major city in California. Other major cities in the state have an elected City Attorney and Chula Vista residents deserve the same type of independent representation.

An independent City Attorney, chosen by the people, will be free to fight unethical behavior and corruption in city government and be independent of Mayoral or City Council influence.

It's time for an independent Chula Vista City Attorney to advise the City and act in the best interest of the public. Unlike San Diego, the elected Chula Vista City Attorney will need Council approval to initiate lawsuits.

An elected City Attorney would help stop the unethical behavior, corruption and back room deals, like these:

  • May 2005, the appointed city attorney helps form the CVRC. Originally the mayor and City Council were members and most of them collected monthly stipends even though meetings were not held. The stipend payments were later reimbursed because of public pressure.

  • May 2008, the appointed city attorney lets the city manager release a politically biased and unnecessary study prepared at taxpayer expense.

  • July 2008, the appointed city attorney helps prepare a ballot measure to change the tax on utilities in Chula Vista. Drafted to sound like a tax decrease, the measure actually would have changed the definition of utilities to include new taxes.

August 2008, the appointed city attorney helps the city council meet behind closed doors concerning a controversial power plant expansion. No action was reported, but a letter sent two days later from the City Manager's office supports the proposed expansion.

These are examples of the unethical practices and back room deals going on at City Hall because the City Attorney is beholden to the City Council and Mayor for their job and salary.

The people need representation. Vote Yes on Proposition Q.

Past President, South Bay Forum

Retired Naval Officer

Chula Vista Taxpayers Association

Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association

President, Chula Vista Mobile Home Park Association

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Vote No on Proposition Q!

Proposition Q will create more politicians and more politics! That's not good for Chula Vista.

Prop Q was initiated by wealthy real estate landlord Earl Jentz, who has already spent over $600,000 on campaigns to influence our city. Under Prop Q, his wealth could elect a City Attorney of his choosing to carry out his political agenda.

Prop Q will encourage unethical behavior and corruption, not fight it. An elected City Attorney can attack political opponents and protect allies instead of protecting our City's interests.

Big contributors would have a huge stake in electing a City Attorney favorable to their interests, making the City Attorney less independent.

Elected City Attorneys don't make for better decision-making! In San Diego, an elected City Attorney approved the Chargers ticket guarantee, approved pension underfunding, and wasted millions on politically motivated lawsuits.

Prop Q would allow an elected City Attorney to file lawsuits without prior Council approval.

Only 2% of California's cities have elected City Attorneys because most cities believe it doesn't work well.

We should NOT replace a competent professional municipal lawyer with someone who is simply good at running a political campaign.

Prop Q has NO residency requirements and NO term limits for the City Attorney. Currently, all Chula Vista elected officials must live in the City and they cannot serve more than two terms.

We need competent legal advice to keep Chula Vista moving forward.

We don't need more politics.

Protect Chula Vista taxpayers.

Please Vote NO on Prop Q.

Mayor, City of Chula Vista

Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce

Deputy Mayor, City of Chula Vista

JIM BIDDLE, Treasurer
Chula Vista Taxpayers for Responsible Planning II

Vice Chair & Treasurer, San Diego County Taxpayers Association
Say NO to City Attorney Politics in Chula Vista - Vote No on Proposition Q

Chula Vista's City Attorney should be a qualified, unbiased professional, not a politician. Our local City Attorney should not be influenced by politics and campaigning.

The City Attorney's responsibilities include giving impartial legal advice to our elected and city officials. That advice should be based on what's best for the City and its residents, not on a political agenda. We elect a Mayor and City Council to set policy, not the City Attorney.

When making decisions that shape the future of our city, we need a City Attorney whose only agenda is protecting the interests of the city and its residents.

We need to ensure that the City Attorney's only allegiance is to the City, and that fair, objective, and non-political advice are immune from special interests and political persuasion.

An elected City Attorney could cost taxpayers dearly, by making meritless accusations and legal maneuvers without the consent of the City Council.

An elected City Attorney who has to deliver campaign speeches, solicit campaign contributions, and make promises when seeking votes could be pressured by politics and partisan fighting. A professional City Attorney advises the City Council, discusses proposed legal strategies with them, and does his or her job in the office, not in front of the camera.

Proposition Q contains NO requirements, experience, or expertise in municipal law in order to run for City Attorney.

Proposition Q will not increase accountability or reduce political influence.

It doesn't even require the City Attorney to live in Chula Vista.

It doesn't require that the City Attorney have experience in city laws, and . . .
it doesn't have term limits!

Please join us and Vote NO on Prop Q.

It's a big risk and a big mistake for Chula Vista.

City of Chula Vista

City of Chula Vista

Deputy Mayor,
City of Chula Vista

Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce

Vice Chair & Treasurer, San Diego County Taxpayers Associationl

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Is it a coincidence that the opponents of Proposition Q are the same people who stand to benefit from keeping the status quo, and who voted for hidden tax increases, deceptively advocating them as a tax decrease?

At the direction of city politicians, the Appointed Chula Vista City Attorney has:

  • Repeatedly helped the Mayor and Council to hide business behind closed doors

  • Worked against taxpayers this Summer, using deceptive language in an attempt to enact hidden tax increases

  • Helped shelter inappropriate employee behavior

  • Ignored public document requests until taken to court

  • Helped the politicians to secretly aid developers and special interests at the expense of taxpayers

It's time for a change!

We need a watchdog that is not afraid to act in the best interest of the residents. A Chula Vista Elected City Attorney will be responsible to the voters, not the Mayor and Council.

Proposition Q will increase accountability and the City Attorney's ability to do what's best for the city and its residents.

Unlike San Diego, Chula Vista's elected City Attorney would be required to receive approval from the City Council to initiate lawsuits. The City Council would retain authority over spending - to protect taxpayers and ensure proper checks and balances.

The opponents of Proposition Q have no faith in our intelligence. We trust voters to elect a well-qualified City Attorney.

The real risk is failing to fix the broken system at City Hall.

Please join us and Vote YES for Proposition Q

Chula Vista Taxpayers Association

Past President, South Bay Forum

Retired Naval Officer

Chula Vista Mobile Home Park Association

President, Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association

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Created: January 24, 2009 10:40 PST
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