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Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA March 3, 2009 Election
Charter Amendment LA-A
Fire Department Independent Assessor
City of Los Angeles

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 132,037 / 53.2% Yes votes ...... 116,042 / 46.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Summary |

Shall the Charter be amended to empower the Board of Fire Commissioners to appoint and remove an Independent Assessor, exempt from Civil Service, who shall be responsible for auditing, assessing and reviewing the Fire Department's handling of complaints against sworn and civilian employees?

Summary Prepared by
League of Women Voters of Los Angeles
THE SITUATION: The Charter provides that the Fire Department is under the control and management of a five-member citizen Fire Commission, with a Fire Chief serving as Chief Administrative Officer of the Department. Both the Commission and Chief are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council. The disciplinary process for Fire Department employees is under the authority of the Fire Chief, who supervises an internal process for investigating and resolving allegations of misconduct against Department employees. There have been recent instances of large jury awards in lawsuits alleging improper conduct at certain Department fire stations.

THE PROPOSAL: This amendment would establish the position of Fire Department Independent Assessor, who would be responsible for auditing and reviewing the activities of the Department, including the handling of complaints of misconduct. The Assessor would be a civilian employee reporting directly to the Fire Commission, which would have the authority to appoint and remove the Assessor.

FINANCIAL IMPACT: Additional costs to the City of approximately $500,000 per year for the Assessor and administrative support.

SUPPORTERS SAY: This measure would establish a position in the Fire Department similar to the position of Independent Inspector General in the Police Department. Experience in the Police Department has shown that an independent official helps to ensure high professional and ethical standards, and boosts citizens’ confidence in the Department. The Assessor’s independence from the Department will ensure confidence from the public and among firefighters that professional standards will be established and enforced in a fair way. The Fire Chief, Fire Commission, firefighters and elected City leaders all support this measure.

OPPONENTS SAY: An Independent Assessor is not needed. Taxpayers are already paying for a multitude of city officials whose job it is to protect firefighters and taxpayers. An Independent Assessor would make no difference, except to increase the tax burden by millions of dollars per year without producing a corresponding benefit. The Fire Commission would have the power to stop the Assessor from pursuing any investigation, thus invalidating his/her independence. In spite of the high cost of the position, the Police Department’s Inspector General has not been able to prevent the City from being liable for multimillion dollar lawsuits alleging harassment.

  Official Information

L.A. City Clerk Election Division

  • Link titled "Find Your Polling Place and Sample Ballot" takes you to a 56-page pdf file including full text and arguments on all ballot measures
  • Voting at Your Polling Place - 3-page pdf file with specific instructions on how to use voting equipment and when to file a provisional ballot
  • Vote by Mail Application - signed copy must be received by City Clerk by February 24, 2009
Nonpartisan Information

'Voter Minute' Video from Center for Governmental Studies

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Created: June 26, 2009 11:57 PDT
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