Charter City?

On the ballot this November in Rosemead is Measure CC, asking whether we wish to become a charter city.  A city "charter" is like a nation's or state's constitution.  It sets out the rules that the city ordinances need to comply with (charter cities are also subject to many federal and state laws and constitutional provisions).

For Rosemead, the only real change the charter would bring to the city is term limits.  Council members would be limited to three consecutive terms (twelve years).  After sitting out two years, they could seek a return to the job for an additional twelve years.

As term limits go, that's pretty lenient.  But, for those who believe in term limits, it's better than nothing.

Why adopt term limits through a city charter rather than by ordinance?  The basic distinction is that a city charter can only be changed by a majority vote of the people in an election.  A city ordinance, by contrast, can be overturned by a majority vote of the city council.  That's why, for example, New York's city council is able to consider overturning their term limits ordiance to allow their mayor to seek an additional term in office.  If term limits had been part of that city's charter, changing term limits would have been up to the city's voters, not its council members. 

Charter City?

If the city gets a charter, does it start out by copying the General Law city laws? Then, what does it take to change the charter? I would worry about the long-term effects if the City Council can alter the charter.

Additionally, is there a place to see what the ordinances have been passed in the past?

Charter City?

Amending the charter requires a majority vote of the people.  The city council can suggest amendments, but they'd have to be put before the people for a city-wide vote before the changes would take effect.

Most city charters would start by giving themselves the basic home rule provisions that they had as a general law city.

An obsolete version of the city code (compilation of the ordinances, but lacking more recent amendments) used to be on the old website, but I don't see a link to it on the new one. Some city codes are also accessible through, but I don't think Rosemead's was among them.

On the other hand, I just noticed that there was a streaming video of the last Planning Commission meeting posted.  I couldn't get Monday's city council meeting to play for me, however.

Charter City?

What's the story with these term limits. Why do they want term limits?

There isn't that much talent in the Rsmd political pool, and terming CC people out could create a political vacuum that might be filled with professional politicians using the position as a stepping stone to higher office.

Term Limits

I think you misunderestimate the city of Rosemead! :D

The general argument is that you want a city council that reflects the interests of the city population, and anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, will, after fifteen or twenty years (or more) in office, lose touch with what "the people" want, and come to reflect only the same aging cohort that put them in office in the first place.

Charter City?

While I agree with the sentiment, I'm not sure if term limits are the solution. Shouldn't better politics be the solution?

A few years back, Tran proposed the idea of neighborhood councils. That might be a way to create a path to better politics.

Charter City?

I need to get back to work, so I can't write a long response now.  But, yes, there has been a continuing effort over the past few years to increase the efficiency and quantity of communication between the city and its residents.  And by this, I mean communication both ways.  That means more newsletters, a working website, streaming videos of city council and city commission meetings, a likely increase in the number of commissions, and an increase in outreach to inform and solicit comments on each of these items.  Our city government is absolutely knocking itself out, trying to get resident feedback on the Valley Vision, on a master plan for the parks, and a lot of other things, both past and present.  So it is really kind of demoralizing when all of this effort often leads to, at most, a handful of surveys or a handful of attendees at most city government meetings.  And most of the time, it's the same old faces, over and over.

Yes, we need to try to increase informed participation, and increase the ability of the city to inform its residents of what is going on.  However, knowing that we can't always count on increased informed participation, some people see term limits as a failsafe.  Even if people were to stop paying attention, we'd still get some minimal increase in turnover in the city council, and this might help create a city council that is more representative of the city's residents than we have had in the past.

Charter City?

Thanks for the fairly long reply. I can see both sides on this one, but I'm not a resident of the City so it's just some questions. No need to convince me. Maybe someone will read this thread before voting.

I can see how having regular turnover could encourage people to run for office.