• Judge rules citizens’ initiative of 2010 and Measure R unconstitutional

    The following article was sent as a bulletin to subscribers on May 17, 2013.

    A ruling was made Fri., May 17 in Superior Court concerning a 2010 voter initiative.  Judge Thomas Wills ruled that the initiative was unconstitutional. In doing so, he also found that Measure R, passed by voters, was unconstitutional.

    He did find that the city had met its “meet and confer” obligations in the matter, however.

    On July 21, 2010 a citizens’ group presented the City Council with an initiative that would put the cap on retirement contributions for employees. The council sitting in 2010 voted to enact the initiative rather than put it on the ballot. Then-council member Bill Kampe, now mayor of Pacific Grove, was the lone dissent.

    City attorney David Laredo and City Manager Tom Frutchey each warned the Council at the time that the matter would be litigated, as did a representative from CalPERS (which is the pension plan in question). Laredo informed the council that if they insisted on enacting the measure, they should also ask the voters if they wanted to amend the city charter to reflect the change because the city charter did not allow it. He expressed doubt at the time that it would be enough, but Measure R was put on the ballot and passed. The Police Officers Association immediately sued as did the Police Management Association,contending that the city charter prevents employee compensation from being decided by voter initiative.

    This ruling will likely have implications for the current citizens’ initiative which seeks to void the 2002 pension agreement, dub it illegally enacted, and require benefits to be repaid. The City Council on Wed., May 15, decided to ask for a judicial review of the matter instead of enacting it as the previous council had done, or putting it on the ballot right away.

    “It has been a seminal week for Pacific Grove,” said City Manager Frutchey, pleased at the outcome. He said he was gratified that the judge had ruled the City had met its meet-and-confer obligations in the matter. The mayor could not be reached for comment, being on vacation. Former police chief Carl Miller also expressed appreciation of the ruling on the unconstitutionality of the two matters.

    It will take several weeks for Judge Wills’s ruling to be final, but when it is, an injunction will likely be issued that will void them both. In the meantime, City staff will seek declaratory relief on the current citizens’ initiative in time to put it on the ballot if that’s what a judge rules.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on May 20, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News

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