By Don Greene, President, Escondido Democrats
In a 4-1 vote, the Escondido City Council approved the draft of the proposed city charter to be put on the November ballot. Incredibly, the charter was approved with at least two of the council members not understanding the document that they were approving.
Case in point: During the June 18th hearing, Council member Ed Gallo very magnanimously told the assembled crowd and those watching at home that the council “could have done themselves, but they chose to put it on the ballot.” Um, no. Charters must be approved by a majority of the residents of the affected city according to state law. Mr. Gallo also stated that “this is the same document that we started with in May” and that the city had gone through “4 public hearings” on the matter. Neither of those points is correct. It would be nice to be sure that our Council members actually understood what they were voting for.
And then there’s Council member Masson.
On two occassions, Mr. Masson incorrectly made the assertion, while speaking about new powers the council will gain from passing the charter, that “if it’s not in the charter, we can’t do it.” This is absolutely incorrect and demonstrates that Mr. Masson has no real understanding of the document that he is pushing.
I have stated before, many times, that Masson’s campaign treasurer Bill Baber is the author of the charter that passed in Oceanside and was put forward – with amendments – in Escondido. Bill Baber is an attorney who works for the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) – an anti-union builders group. The ABC fights paying prevailing wages and the signing of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) through various means, one of which is getting cities to become charter cities with anti-prevailing wage and anti-PLA provisions. The State of California has taken steps to minimize their efforts and you can read about them in other places.
The effects that the proposed Escondido City Charter will have in the future are astounding and the fact that Masson either doesn’t know – or is playing naive while being manipulated by his treasurer – is disturbing. The ABC is well known for working from behind the scenes to accomplish their goals. They may have succeeded in getting the proposed charter on the ballot in Escondido, but now they’ve been caught tampering in another Southern California city.
Chula Vista – a charter city, by the way – has just won a victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case that was brought before them concerning a ballot measure. The ABC was found to have backed and authored (sound familiar?) a ballot measure that would, according to the court’s decision, “mandate that the City or Redevelopment Agency not fund or contract for public works projects where there [was] a requirement to use only union employees.” The court found that the ABC violated State election laws and that “corporations and organizations can’t sponsor ballot measures, only people can.”
Why is this significant? Two reasons: First, as I mentioned, Chula Vista is a charter city. They incorporated into their charter that the city would follow all State elections codes, including the sections on putting ballot measures on the ballot. This area of law is considered a “municipal affair” and thereby under the direct jurisdiction of the city government. We – the City of Escondido – have no such language. In fact, there isn’t any mention about following the state elections code at all. The we-can’t-do-it-if-it’s-not-in-there argument of Mr. Masson now has a greater impact.
Second, the ABC was pushing this all along. They are the reasons that a number of cities up-and-down the state have become charter cities. In those actions, and in the action in Chula Vista, they’ve proven that they not only want impunity for their member builders and developers, but they are willing to violate state laws to achieve the task.
During the creation of our districts we heard from the Mayor and council majority that the city was being held hostage by an “out of town union.” While it is arguable that creating districts will create better representation for the residents of Escondido, the council majority is certainly not willing to tell you that an “out of town” anti-union group of builders and developers is effectively changing the way that Escondido residents will be governed, all so that their members (and the council majority’s friends) can put some more money in their pockets at the expense of their workers.
Say “NO” to the upcoming charter pushed on us by this out of town special interest group and their willing dupes, the council majority. If Escondido needs a charter, it needs a charter that is created by the residents of Escondido who will determine how it is they wish to be governed.