Arguments for and against EE: Charter Amendment to Appoint the City Clerk

Argument in favor of Measure EE

Of the 34 cities in Orange County, only 6 still directly elect the City Clerk. Seal Beach is one of them. Having an appointed rather than elected City Clerk will reduce costs for Seal Beach taxpayers.

When Seal Beach was a young city, the job did not involve much, but over time, and with all the new laws and regulations, it has evolved into a technical, professional, credentialed position requiring experience. It is a “M-F, 9-5” job just like the other clerical positions at City Hall. It is time to change the charter for a professional clerk. Vote Yes on EE.

If our present City Clerk leaves, the Council would appoint an interim Clerk and call for an election. The only requirement for an elected clerk is that they live in the City of Seal Beach. Unless you elect a resident with prior City Clerk experience, it will cost taxpayers to get them  trained. How many credentialed City Clerks live in our town?

City Clerks usually begin as Deputy City Clerks and work their way up acquiring experience, knowledge and credentials necessary to do the job. We need an impartial, professional, credentialed City Clerk. Voting yes on EE will give us a professional clerk.

Some concerns were raised that an appointed City Clerk would not be independent and could play politics with the position. What is more political than a City Clerk who is also a politician? It’s time for a professional city clerk.

Times have changed. The position has changed. A competitive hiring process will allow the city to hire the most qualifie dindividual instead of taking its chances through an election. The time is right to change the charter to allow an appointed City Clerk. Vote Yes on EE.

Vote Yes on EE. Vote for a professional, not a politician.

Gordon A. Shanks, Councilman/Former Mayor; William T. Ayres, Past Seal Beach Citizen of the Year and Block Captain NFN, 30 Year SB Resident; Les H. Cohen, Ombudsman, Leisure World;  Barbara E. Barton, Environmental Quality Control Board, 48 Year Resident; Sandra Massa-Lavitt, S.B. Planning Commission Chair, 24 year Leisure World Resident

Rebuttle to argument in favor of Measure EE

Corruption costs taxpayers money. Vote No on EE!

Look at the City of Bell.

When asked for salary information, their appointed City Clerk knowingly provided a document with incorrect information. She did this at the request of the City Manager Robert Rizzo. “He was my boss and I needed to listen to what he was telling me to do (LA Times Jan. 25, 2013).”

We don’t want a City Clerk who is beholden to the City Council or the City Manager. For decades voters have competently selected a dedicated local resident to serve their fellow citizens. Measure EE takes away your right to select this resident, eroding democracy.

Don’t allow the City Council or City Manager to pick someone who does not live in Seal Beach and does not represent your interests.

Measure EE will not reduce costs to taxpayers.

If Measure EE passes, the City will hire a recruiter to place ads and screen applicants. The City paid a recruiter $5,000 to find a Treasurer and $8,000 for a Police Chief. For the same money the City can easily train an elected City Clerk since all City Clerks learn their profession on the job.

The City Clerks Association offers a two-day nuts and bolts workshop covering a wide range of subjects costing only $175. Further, in-depth training is offered through a series of three-week long seminars for a total cost of less than $4,500. There is also a free mentoring program that ensures no clerk’s left behind. Vote No On EE.

Ronald Kredell, former City of S.B. Council Member and Mayor; Mike Buhbe, 40 year Seal Beach Resident and Chair of Seal Beach For Two Stories; Jim Caviola, 35 year resident, President, Trees For Seal Beach; Elizabeth Kane, 17 Year Resident & Director, Run Seal Beach; Wendi Rothman, Long Time S.B. Resident and Local Business Owner

Argument against Measure EE

The City Clerk is the local official for elections, the Public Records Act and the Brown Act. In Seal Beach, as in 153 other California ciies, the City Clerk is elected by a citywide vote to represent the interests of every citizen to have fair elections, access to government documents, and open government meetings.

The City Council fears that the public may not elect someonewho is capable of fully understanding “increasingly complex” laws while “remaining completely apolitical and neutral.” Therefore, the Council is asking you to give them the power to appoint the next City Clerk.

We are deeply concerned with this proposal. How can the public be sure that the City Clerk will fairly enforce election rules when the outcome of the election may impact the City Clerk keeping their job? Do we want the City Clerk to be accountable to individual Council Members or the public as a whole?

During an election there are lots of rules and deadlines that could be bent or broken by an unscrupulous candidate. One example, which actually occurred in 2006, was the placement of yard signs before the date they were allowed. One candidate put up signs a week earlier than his opponent who was following the rules. Who would be more likely to notify the public of this, an elected City Clerk or one who  fears that this candidate might be their boss in a couple of months?

While it is true that City Clerks need to know a lot, this education has been successfully accomplished through extensive education programs, publications, and annual conferences sponsorted by various professional organizations such as the City Clerks Association of California.

As Seal Beach prepares to celebrate its centennial, it is timely to recall the wise adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Robert L. Goldberg, M.D., City of Seal Beach Planning Commissioner; Marc Loopesko, President, Run Seal Beach: Paul Yost, MD, Former Seal Beach Council Member & Mayor;  Esther S. Cummings, City of Seal Beach Planning Commissioner; Carla A. Watson, Seal Beach Parks & Recreation Commissioner

Rebuttle to argument against Measure EE

Vote Yes on EE for an independent City CLerk! A Political Clerk is not an independent clerk. It is a clerk with no supervision and no accountability. “Yes” on X saves taxpayers money. Currently, Orange County cities are advertising for certified city clerks with 5 years experience at tens of thousands of dollars less in salary than our Seal Beach Clerk.

Why are we paying more? Electing a clerk who monitors their own election to a six-figure salary every four years with no supervisor is inviting trouble. “Yes” on X means accountability and transparency in government.

It’s just smart government. There are no qualifications required to be an elected City Clerk except that you live in the City of Seal Beach and have reached the age of 18. Vote “Yes” on X for a professional clerk hired through a rigorous competitive process.

The City Clerk’s position should no longer be a popularity contest paying a six-figure salary. It’s time to cut our budget, cut the cost of government and hire a professional clerk. This position is no different from other administrative positions in the city. Every city employee should have a supervisor and be held accountable for doing a day’s work for a day’s pay. Now that our clerk is leaving, it’s the perfect time for a professional clerk hired through a competitive process with a competitive salary who is held accountable through supervision.

Vote “Yes” on X for a professional clerk not a politician.

John Michael Carey, retired City Clerk, Seal Beach Resident; Gordon A. Shanks, Councilman/Former Mayor; Les. H. Cohen, Ombudsman, LeisureWorld; Ellery Deaton, Mayor/Councilwoman; William T. Ayres, Past Citizen of the Year, 30 Year Reisdent, N4N Block Captain