City council won’t enforce Measure A

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Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

The city will neither enforce Measure A nor file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the conflict-of-interest initiative passed by voters last month, the City Council announced Tuesday.

After a closed session held before Tuesday’s meeting, the council said City Attorney Sonia Carvalho would also write a policy protecting city officials from lawsuits stemming from the law.

Measure A makes it illegal for all elected and some appointed city officials to accept money or employment from people or groups benefiting from the officials’ decisions. Under the law’s provisions, anyone may file a lawsuit against public officials suspected of violating Measure A.

Officials have blasted the law, saying it puts illegal limits on officials and prevents them from making a living while holding a government position. Two Community Services Commission members have resigned because of the measure.

Joan Overturf said she resigned because Measure A would have forced her to reveal the names of the patients she treats as a psychologist. John Seery stepped down after saying he felt his job as a Pomona College professor would stop him from voting on college-related issues on the commission, which deals with city services.

Supporters of Measure A say the initiative, proposed by the Santa Monica-based Oaks Project in Claremont and five other California cities, will cut down on bribery and improper influence on public administrators. The commissioners’ resignations are simply meant to scare residents, Oaks Project representatives said.

Council members had met in closed session several times since the measure was passed March 6 before Tuesday’s decision. The council had previously voted to seek a judge’s opinion on the law’s constitutionality.

The four attending council members voted unanimously on the matter Tuesday.

Councilwoman Karen Rosenthal was out of town and did not attend the meeting.

Following the announcement, Carvalho said the city could not enforce an illegal law.

“This measure does restrict employment opportunities,” she said. “We do see this as a constitutional violation.”

The initiative has caused concern among city officials nearly everywhere it has been proposed.

Officials in Vista in San Diego County sought a court decision on the matter before the November election. A San Diego County Superior Court judge ruled the proposal unconstitutional, but an injunction by a state appeals court kept it on the ballot.

Vista voters passed the initiative, but a city-sponsored measure on the same ballot collected more votes, superseding the Oaks Project proposal.

Santa Monica voters passed the initiative in November, but that city has also refused to enforce it.

Residents of San Francisco and Pasadena also passed the law, and San Francisco officials have worked to implement the measure.

The initiative failed to gain enough signatures during the petition phase in Irvine, keeping it off the ballot.

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