Grand jury says City Council should fix charter
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Amendments to the San Diego City Charter for removing
elected officials from office should go directly to the City Council, instead
of a commission, to save time and money, the county grand jury recommended
In its first report of the year, the watchdog panel said the city
charter only allows removal in the event of a death, resignation or recall,
unless a provision that an official illegally spent city money is invoked.
The lack of an easier mechanism to remove an officeholder resulted in
the recall effort against ex-Mayor Bob Filner, who was accused of sexual
harassment by numerous women and eventually resigned under pressure Aug. 30. He
later pleaded guilty to three charges and was sentenced to three years'
The need for clarified rules prompted a discussion among City Attorney
Jan Goldsmith and members of the City Council about updating the charter, the
city's blueprint for governance. It can only be amended by a vote of the
Goldsmith called the charter a “mess,” with provisions that are
“ambiguous, outdated and incomplete.” He said 48 sections need to be updated.
City Council members should discuss possible amendments within their
respective districts, the grand jurors said.
“Action by the City Council to place its proposed revisions to the City
Charter on the ballot without initiating the commission/committee process has
the advantage of costing fewer taxpayers' dollars in addition to saving
valuable time,” the report said.
The grand jury recommended the City Council propose an amended charter
that would include a list of removable offenses and require motions to have a
super majority of at least six votes to pass.
Among the removable offenses suggested by the grand jury were
convictions involving moral turpitude, insanity, no longer living in the city
or district he or she represents and failing to discharge the duties of office
over 90 days unless excused by at least six council members.
The city has until June 11 to respond to the grand jury.