Direct Democracy in Montebello and West Covina

These two stories are from beyond Rosemead, but they may be of interest to those of us who were involved in our own adventures in direct democracy in Rosemead.

In Montebello, three city council members are being targeted for recall:

Meanwhile, in West Covina, a move is afoot to shift from "at large' to "by district" elections for city council.

[Both links have since died.  But they are still stories for us to keep an eye on].

One error in the West Covina article

     The article says there are about 40,000 voters in West Covina, and that 10,000 signatures would be needed to qualify an intiative.  But, actually, it only takes 10% of the registered voters signing a petition to qualify a city initiative.  That makes the hurdle of confirmed registered voters just 4,000, and means it's a lot easier to qualify an initiative than it is to qualify a recall (at least in terms of the number of signatures required).

     I kind of like the idea of larger cities like West Covina electing their council by districts.  It's the only way to be sure that all parts of the city get representation.  Otherwise, the poorer, less-educated (and, hence, less likely to vote) portions of town end up getting dominated by the wealthier parts of the city, and that just leads to ever greater disparities in services and amenities.

More news from West Covina

The city attorney has rejected the petition twice.  This is a problem with direct democracy:  if you don't have legal assistance, it's really easy to get tripped up by the technicalities.  And if the city attorney is in the pocket of the city council majority, he can also make it very hard to qualify a petition that would harm them.

And, in a case of "It's a small world, after all," the name of West Covina's city attorney is Arnold Alvarez-Glasman.

His name came up in this story:

Fire Department

Wasn't the Fire Department the cause of some of their fiscal woes? They were trying to make some money by selling services to the City of Commerce, but the deal fell apart, and Mtb lost money on the deal.

It might make sense to consider combining the FD with the County, or another city. They're still in the hole, and the voters weren't willing to raise taxes to get out of debt.

Of course, there are probably other political aspects to this fight. The petitioners might be political rivals using this crisis as an opportunity to get a foot in the door.

Fire Department

Yep, Montebello bought a whole bunch of fire equipment on the expectation that they had a deal with Commerce to provide fire protection.  Then the deal fell through.

Nonetheless, I can hardly blame folks who might support a recall.  Their city council gamed the rules to keep an initiative on the fire department off the ballot.  When the city council won't let you vote on an issue, your only choice is to go after the city council.