October 27, 2016
Do you want to preserve democracy in Culver City? If so, please go to the end of a very long ballot on Tuesday, November 8 (or when you receive your vote-by-mail ballot), and vote NO on Measure CA.
If Measure CA passes it would take away the power to hire, supervise and fire the Police and Fire Chiefs from our elected City Council and give this power to a single person we did not elect—the City Manager.
For almost 70 years our City Council has been in charge of our Police and Fire Chiefs. When Culver City residents have problems with the Police Department or Fire Department we contact our elected officials, and they use their control to bring change if needed. If Measure CA passes, the Council members will command less attention from the Police Chief and Fire Chief and be less influential.
There are at least two democratic components to Council’s supervision of the Police Chief and Fire Chief. First, we can speak directly to our Council members about problems with the police or fire departments. Second, if Council fails to impose the community’s standards and values on these important institutions, or tolerates indifference to respond to citizen concerns by the police or fire chiefs, we can vote them out.
A case in point involves Councilwoman Meghan Sahli-Wells who spoke highly of our Culver City Police Department during a community forum at last year’s Martin Luther King celebration at the Senior Center. Later, a woman came to the microphone to describe an ongoing problem she and her husband were having with the police. Immediately after the woman left the microphone Councilwoman Sahli-Wells went to talk privately with the woman and gave her business card to the woman.
Certain elected council members regularly show up in their official capacity at such events. They make themselves readily accessible to community members who voice concerns, and thus help to keep democracy alive. These elected officials are usually re-elected with large margins, as was Councilwoman Sahli-Wells in the last election.
City Managers are not expected to attend these events in an official capacity and they do not have the incentive to develop relationships with community members as do elected officials. They are not even required to live in the city. City Managers do not govern; they are professionals who simply do the administrative job they are paid to do.
Want to keep democracy alive? Vote NO on Measure CA.
Carlene Brown, MA. Ed.