City of Oakland Ethics Commission Authority Increase Charter Amendment, Measure CC (November 2014)
Administration of Government
|Not on ballot|
A City of Oakland Ethics Commission Authority Increase Charter Amendment ballot question was on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Oakland in Alameda County, California. It was approved.
This measure amended the Oakland City Charter to grant significantly more authority to the city's Ethics Commission, an independent entity responsible for investigating and bringing to light any questionable or corrupt actions by elected officials. The measure sought to set aside an annual $500,000 in additional funding for the commission in order to hire more staff members and investigate elected officials in a more rigorous and thorough fashion. Prior to this measure, the commission was granted funding for an executive director and two staff members.
Election results via: Alameda County Elections Office
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
Shall the Charter of the City of Oakland be amended to provide the Public Ethics Commission greater independence, broader enforcement authority, powers and responsibilities, and minimum budget for staff to enforce compliance with ethics-related laws and requirements?
The full text of the changes to city law that were enacted by the approval of Measure CC is available here.
The Oakland Public Ethics Commission (PEC) was instituted in 1996 as a response to certain scandals and ethics violations. The commission was given responsibility over issues regarding elections, campaigns, ethics generally, public records, open meetings and the salaries and compensation of officials.
Measure CC altered the laws governing the commission to give it more authority and more responsibility according to the following provisions.
Responsibilities and powers
Out of the seven total members, Measure CC allowed one appointment each for the mayor, city auditor and city attorney, where previously the mayor had the power for three appointments. Law requires that remaining four commissioners be appointed by the commission itself.
Measure CC allowed two consecutive three-year terms for commissioners, rather than the single three-year term allowed prior to Measure CC.
Measure CC established the following restrictions on PEC commissioners:
- No commissioner can have a contact with or be employed by the city or be an Oakland lobbyist while simultaneously serving a term on the commission.
- No commissioner can seek election to public office in a jurisdiction intersecting with Oakland while serving on the commission.
- No commissioner can participate in or contribute to an Oakland municipal campaign while serving on the commission.
- No commissioner can endorse, support or oppose any candidate or measure in an Oakland city election.
Measure CC also made it possible for the commission to terminate its executive director, where previously the executive director could only be fired with "just cause."
Measure CC also extended the authority of the PEC to include:
- censuring officials
- reprimanding officials
- instituting administrative remedies for ethics and campaign violations
- seeking injunctions and imposing fines and penalties that exceed $1,000, when before penalties imposed by the commission were restricted to below $1,000.
Measure CC made the commission responsible for education about and enforcement of laws regarding ethics.
In order to fully carry out the commission's new powers and responsibilities, the city was forced by Measure CC to fund a minimum of six full-time positions for the PEC, including the positions of:
- Executive Director
- Deputy Director
- Ethics Investigator
- Program Analyst or Operations Support Specialist
- Program Analyst
- Administrative Assistant
The costs associated with the minimum funding requirements were estimated by the city auditor and are shown below.
The city auditor's financial analysis of Measure CC estimated that the measure would have two main costs to the city:
1.) increased staffing costs
2.) operations and maintenance costs
The auditor stated that Measure CC would require the hiring of four additional full time employees for the Public Ethics Commission (PEC), requiring an additional costs of between $451,697 and $483,866 per year. Without the approval of Measure CC, the Public Ethics Commission staffing would remain at two full-time employees, costing $302,666 per year. This amounts to a total staffing cost for the PEC of between $754,363 and $786,532 per year.
The auditor estimated that, under Measure CC, the operations and maintenance costs of the PEC would increase by $36,000 per year from $60,300 to $96,300.
This would make the total costs of the operation of the Oakland Public Ethics Commission to be:
- $362,966 per year without Measure CC
- Between $850,663 and $882,832 per year with Measure CC
The auditor noted two other variables with regard to the fiscal impacts of Measure CC that could not be quantified:
- Staff salaries and benefits could increase over time, costing the city more.
- The PEC could impose additional fines for ethics-related violations, which could generate some city revenue and alleviate the additional costs.
Carol Wyatt, who served on the commission in 2014, said, "I think it is magnificent. Poor ethics leads to people taking risks and that leads to corruption and to me that leads to discrimination."
As of August 21, 2014, there were no readily available and prominent opponents or arguments in opposition to Measure CC. If you have an argument that you would like to see posted here, please email the Local Ballot Measures Project staff writer.
Path to the ballot
Councilman Dan Kalb (District 1) introduced and pushed for this measure and it was unanimously approved for the ballot by the city council during its July 15, 2014 meeting.
- City governance on the ballot
- Alameda County, California ballot measures
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in California
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "Oakland voters to weigh in on anti-crime tax measure, minimum wage," July 16, 2014
- Alameda County Elections Office, "Ballot Measure information document," archived August 15, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
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