If you are new to the discussion on Measure G which would turn Escondido into a Charter City, I have written about it many times and if you type “Charter City” into the SEARCH box you can read all about it. As I’ve listened to candidates speak at the forums, I continue to hear statements about the Charter that are not true. But I want to start by clearing up some confusion I have heard from people “on the street.” Charter cities and Charter schools have nothing to do with one another. The word “charter” simply means they have been granted the power to operate under the terms of a written document. Aside from that, they are totally unrelated and Charter schools operate the same way no matter the status of the city in which they are located.
Myth #1 If it is not written in the Charter, then the City can’t do it. Another observation is that the Charter is an empty document. So let’s look at the words of the Charter itself:
Section 101. Powers
The City shall have all powers that a City can have under the Constitution and laws of the State of California as fully and completely as though they were specifically enumerated in this Charter. The enumeration in this Charter of any particular power, duty or procedure shall not be held to be exclusive of, or any limitation or restriction upon, this general grant of power.
I think it is pretty clear, right? This paragraph says Just because it’s not written in the Charter doesn’t mean the City won’t take all the power it can — the “general grant of power” which covers everything considered a “municipal affair.”
Myth #2 If we had been a Charter city they wouldn’t have taken our Redevelopment money. Now this is usually said in a vague way, like “the State steals our money” but then they refer to the tens of millions of dollars that were lost. Well, the fact is EVERY city in California that had redevelopment funds — Charter or not — had those funds taken away. Being a Charter City would have made NO DIFFERENCE and that will hold true in the future it the State determines funds are a “statewide concern.”
Myth #3 The Charter cities will win their case against prevailing wage on appeal and then we’ll save 30% – 40% on our construction projects. If this case is appealed — and we don’t even know that it will be — it will be in the courts for awhile and it is not likely to be overturned, so we might just want to hold off. In the meantime, we might want to wonder why appointed Councilman Masson said that as a Charter City we could save “30% – 40%” when those in favor of Charters never quote a number that high. I also found it interesting to learn that when the City of Carlsbad was asked about savings as a Charter City not paying prevailing wage they said this: “We have found savings to be hard to ascertain. Bid prices may be lower on the front end but there is some suspicion that the total project costs may impact initial savings (change orders, costly project delays, more labor by city employees, etc.)”
Myth #4 The only reason the Charter failed in 2012 was because it included Districting. There is absolutely no information that backs up that claim. The Charter failed by 5 points and no one has brought forth any concrete data on any specific reason why.
I urge everyone running for Mayor and City Council to get clarity on the Charter and what it does and doesn’t mean. Then I hope they will make their cases based upon the facts, and not the myth that suits their message.