When Oakland City Council included mid-X on the November 8 vote, they threw in everything but the kitchen sink.

Deadlines. Council wages. Rules for tie votes. Hearings on the proposed voting means. Principles regulating the political activity of the city councilor and city auditor. Extended duties and staffing for the city auditor.

Most of the proposed city charter changes would be good. One key change is not. They should never be mixed in one pot. Voters should be able to evaluate these ideas separately and not as part of a single ‘take or leave’ package.

Nevertheless, voters should approve Measure X. The benefits outweigh the harms.

The most problematic and heavily advertised part of the package is deadlines. This is a good idea and does not necessarily lead to better management and can often lead to the loss of key knowledge in management positions.

However, the proposition in the middle of X is the forward lite limits. This would only apply to council members. (The mayor of Oakland already has a two-term limit.) This would limit council members to three consecutive terms, rather than the two used in many cities. This would allow someone who has served three terms to return after serving one. And that would allow someone to three terms as a district council member, and then three terms as a citywide member.

So for those who want firm deadlines, this isn’t it. What he does not bother us with. Makes Measure X easier to handle for other, less visible, but more important parts.

The most important and positive part of the action are changes in the position of the city auditor. In a city of often tax reckless council members, independent auditor oversight is essential.

Measure X would extend the auditor’s powers to cover more areas of investigation in the city administration and increase its office staffing from 11 full-time employees to a minimum of 14. It would also increase the qualification requirements – which currently requires the position holder to be a certified accountant or certified internal auditor – including at least three years of experience in the relevant public sector or equivalent private sector experience.

And Measure X would protect the independence of the City Auditor and the City Attorney by prohibiting them from financially supporting, campaigning, or endorsing candidates for public office in Oakland. A city auditor would also be prohibited from seeking an office over which it has auditing jurisdiction.

Measure X would require two, not one public hearing before voting on a measure on a deposit or parcel tax. In a city where politicians are obsessed with new tax solutions, the more opportunities to reflect before taking action, the better. We would have liked this provision to be even stricter, applicable to all taxes, or, in fact, to all measures that the council places in the vote.

This measure would also count the abstention or absence of a board member as a refusal to determine if there is a tie. This should end the game in an eight-member council with someone voting to prevent a 4-4 draw where the mayor could secure a conclusive fifth vote for passing.

The salary determination of the city attorney and city auditor would be transferred from the City Council to the Public Ethics Committee and would be based on the salaries of their highest paid subordinates, other city department heads and comparable positions elsewhere in the state. Again, more independence in two jobs and a pay proportional to the job. All good.

And Measure X would make minor adjustments to the way the ethics committee determines board members’ salaries.

This measure should have been broken into pieces. But that’s not an option facing voters. Given the up or down choice they have, voters should approve measure X.

#Oakland #Measure #terms

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