October 1, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

A Brief Overview of Local Measures:

The Santa Monica ballot on November 7 will contain, in addition to state and local candidates and an array of state propositions, four city measures and a school district bond measure. Last week the Mirror gave an overview of Measures U, V and BB. Herewith, Measures W and Y.

MEASURE W

This is titled “AMENDING CHARTER SECTION XXII, THE TAXPAYER PROTECTION AMENDMENT OF 2000,” and, as the title implies, it modifies Charter provisions adopted by voters in 2000 which relate to gifts, campaign contributions or any other “personal advantage” received by a City official.

The ballot language is: “Shall City Charter Article XXII be amended by replacing restrictions against a person giving, and a City official receiving, any campaign contribution, employment, or valuable gift, after the official votes “yes” on certain matters benefiting the person, with prohibitions against giving or receiving anything valuable in return for an official decision and against using public office to gain employment, and restrictions on gifts from persons doing business with the City and other gifts?”

This proposition would repeal the restrictions adopted in 2000 and enact new and different restrictions. For example: the current law provides that an official cannot receive any campaign contribution, employment or gift worth over $50 from a person if that official has, within a certain time, voted “yes” on a measure that benefits that person by more than $25,000 in 12 months; the prohibition is independent of intent, unlike bribery laws that require intent to unlawfully influence official decisions before there is a crime. This proposal would prohibit the giving/receiving of anything worth $10 in return for making a decision which benefits the person’s economic interests.

The City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis concludes: “Overall, the proposed measure would eliminate existing Charter protections against corruption through campaign contributions and replace existing protections against the corruptive influence of gifts and employment opportunities. Adoption of the measure would eliminate the risk of Constitutional challenge to Article XXII based on, for example, its prohibitions against campaign contributions or its distinction between “yes” and “no” votes, either of which may yield economic benefits; adoption would also reduce costs to the City resulting from the requirement of keeping records relating to individual votes.”

Measure W is supported by City Councilmembers Mayor Robert Holbrook, Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Shriver and Richard Bloom, who argue that it is “a tough, new good-government ordinance.” The measure is opposed by Campaign for Consumer Rights President Harvey Rosenfield, Santa Monica Oaks Project Volunteer Susanne Griffin and Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights President Jamie Court, who argue that it is “a cynical attempt to deceive you into repealing…the strong anti-corruption law passed by the voters six years ago.”

The Mirror’s survey of current City Council candidates shows them divided on the measure, with four in favor, two opposed and two undecided, and the incumbents falling one into each camp.

MEASURE Y

This is the MARIJUANA LOWEST LAW ENFORCEMENT PRIORITY POLICY ORDINANCE that would declare that crimes involving adult, personal use of marijuana are the lowest law enforcement priority for the Police Department. Exceptions are provided for minors, marijuana sales, use on public property and driving under the influence

The ballot statement is: “Shall the Municipal Code be amended to: state that City police shall make law enforcement related to adult, personal use of marijuana the lowest enforcement priority, unless the use occurs on public property or in conjunction with driving under the influence; require the City Council to effectuate the priority through reporting, grievance and oversight procedures; and require the City Clerk to send annual notice of the priority to federal and state representatives?

The proposed ordinance would prohibit police from cooperating with other law enforcement agencies regarding activities covered by the lowest priority designation and prohibit the City from accepting federal funds for such activities, would designate special report forms to document enforcement actions, and would provide for grievances from persons who believe they were subjected to law enforcement efforts contrary to the lowest priority designation (though basing disciplinary action on such grievances would be prohibited).

The City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis states, “The measure specifies that a violation of its requirements would not be a crime, but any resident of the City could file a civil action to mandate compliance.” The City Attorney also says, “Implementation of this measure would entail significant financial costs,” including reporting requirements, lost funding, and legal challenges.

Measure Y is supported by Daniel Macallair, Executive Director, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice; Lt. Jack A Cole (Ret.), Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; Vivian Rothstein, Former Executive Director, Ocean Park Community Center; Katherine K. McTaggart, MFT, Adolescent Substance Abuse Specialist; and Susanne Griffin, Esq., Santa Monicans for Sensible Marijuana Policy. They argue that “Santa Monica should have policies that are consistent with our values and priorities.”

The argument in opposition to the measure is signed by Police Officers Assn. Chairman Jay Trisler, then-Chief James T. Butts, Jr. and City Councilmembers Mayor Robert Holbrook and Herb Katz, who argue that it is “both unnecessary and over-broad” and that it “sends a confusing message to our children.”

All of the City Council candidates responding, save one, recorded opposition to Measure Y in the Mirror’s questionnaire.

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