San Bernardino Appointed Clerk, Treasurer and Attorney, Measure C (November 2010)

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Measure C, a proposal to alter the City of San Bernardino's City Charter to move toward an appointed Clerk, Treasurer and Attorney, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in the City of San Bernardino, in San Bernardino County.[1] It was defeated.

If Measure C had been approved, the offices of city clerk, city treasurer and city attorney would have been filled through a process that:

  • Began with open applications
  • Applicants that meet the qualification standards adopted by the city council would then have been considered by the city council.
  • The full city council would then have determined which applicants, of those who met the established qualification standards, would be recommended for an appointment.
  • The mayor would then have been presented with the question of confirming the council’s appointment, and could have rejected or confirmed any such appointments.

There are 478 incorporated cities in California and each one is governed by either general law or a city charter. General law cities choose to become charter cities by a vote of the people. The charter is not adopted by the city until it is ratified by a majority vote of the city's voters. Charter cities conduct their own business and control their own affairs.[2] There is no requirement under general law for a city to have an attorney. A charter city maximizes local control and can, under their charter, elect a city attorney and others if the voters so choose. San Bernardino is one of 119 charter cities in California and of that 11 cities in California that elect a City Attorney. Other cities where the city attorney is elected include San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland.

Election results

  • Yes: 11,333 (36.86%)
  • No: 19,409 (63.14%) Defeatedd

Election results are from the San Bernardino County elections division as of November 24, 2010.


"Yes on C" campaign logo

Supporters established a "Vote Yes on Measure C" website, which lists groups and individuals who have endorsed Measure C and gave a series of arguments encouraging people to vote "yes" on Measure C.

Those arguments included:

  • "San Bernardino is headed in the wrong direction. San Bernardino is teetering on bankruptcy with a $26 million deficit that could grow to $40 million next year. There are too many politicians at City Hall which results in wasted taxpayer dollars and constant political fighting instead of progress. San Bernardino can no longer afford to waste our scarce tax dollars on politicians who are focused on their political agenda instead of making our city better."
  • Measure C will "save millions in taxpayer dollars."
  • Measure C will "eliminate politically controlled budgets and staffs in the city attorney, clerk, treasurer offices; and stop politicians from continuing to spend 2 to 3 times more than surrounding cities on these administrative functions."
  • Measure C will "make our city government like well-run cities around us where there are fewer politicians, less political gridlock, and more progress; and reduce the number of politicians controlling separate bugets inside City Hall to avoid scandals like we've recently seen in the City of Bell and the County Assessor's Office."

Supporters of Measure C included:

  • Congressman Jerry Lewis
  • Congressman Joe Baca
  • Pat Morris, Mayor of San Bernardino
  • Rachel Mendoza Clark, City Treasurer of San Bernardino
  • David Kennedy, City Treasurer of San Bernardino
  • Council Member Virigina Marquez, 1st Ward
  • Council Member Tobin Brinker, 3rd Ward
  • Council Member Fred Shorett, 4th Ward
  • Council Member Rikke Johnson, 6th Ward
  • Kip Sturgeon, Director, East Valley Water District
  • San Bernardino County Taxpayers Association
  • John Husing, Inland Empire Economist
  • Temple Missionary Baptist Church senior Pastor Ray Turner[3]
  • See full list of supporters

The Riverside Press Enterprise endorsed Measure C, saying, "The city's clerk and treasurer understand the need to change that dynamic, and support Measure C. Not so the city attorney. City Attorney Jim Penman, however, has been a disruptive, negative force in city politics for decades. He poses as a civic watchdog, but in reality he has long been an obstacle to good government. Instead of confining himself to the legal duties of the office, he continually meddles in city policy for his own political ends. His interference causes havoc and discord in a city that badly needs a unified approach to reversing the city's social and economic deterioration."[3]

City council member Jason Desjardins, who originally opposed Measure C, announced in late October that he supported it.[4]


"No on C" campaign logo

Opponents established a "Vote No on Measure C" website, which listed individuals who oppose Measure C and gave a series of arguments encouraging people to vote "no" on Measure C.

Those arguments included:

  • "We believe an independent and elected city clerk protects the integrity of city elections; an independent and elected city treasurer protects our city investment funds from being raided by city politicians; and an independent and elected city attorney acts as a check on government corruption."[5]
  • "The appointed City Attorney in Riverside costs millions of dollars more than the elected City Attorney in San Bernardino."
  • "The San Bernardino City Attorney prosecutes 15,000+ criminal cases a year, while the Riverside City Attorney prosecutes zero. All of Riverside's criminal prosecutions are handled by the Riverside County District Attorney."
  • "Riverside’s appointed City Attorney’s office and contract lawyers, cost $1.4 million more than San Bernardino’s elected City Attorney’s office, including contract attorneys."
  • "City of Bell’s appointed City Attorney approved $900,000 for loans for council members and appointed city officials."
  • "In 1993 San Bernardino’s elected City Attorney publicly declared the City Council’s 1000% pay raise unlawful."
  • "The Law Firm hired by San Bernardino’s City Manager to write the Measure C analysis was the same firm that served as the City of Bell’s appointed City Attorney."
  • "Keep your right to vote. Vote no on measure C."

Opponents issued what they called a "voter warning" that said:

  • "Measure C allows non-residents to be appointed, and eliminates your right to vote for, City Attorney, Clerk and Treasurer."

Opponents of Measure C included:

  • Judith Valles, Former San Bernardino City Mayor
  • Tom Minor, Former San Bernardino City Mayor
  • Evlyn Wilcox, Former San Bernardino City Mayor
  • John P. Wade, Retired Superior Court Judge
  • Jack Hill, Past President San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce and Library Board
  • B. Warren Cocke, Retired Police Chief
  • Carl Clemons, Human Relations Commission
  • John Valdivia, Human Relations Commission
  • Serena Cereceres, Teacher
  • Bill Eich, Dentist
  • The San Bernardino Public Employees Association
  • San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters[3]
  • See full list of those in Opposition

Path to the ballot

Raymond Turner, a local pastor led the effort to collect signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Turner announced plans in late 2009 to put a charter amendment similar to Measure C on the ballot. That group, however, did not gather enough signatures.[6] The city council was not required to vote on the item until it was placed on the agenda by city manager, Charles McNeeley. File:6-30-2010 Council Summary.pdf Discussion was heard at the June 30, 2010 council meeting. The proceedings were recorded and minutes were published by Rachel Clark the City Clerk and approved by the council on July 17, 2010.

July 30, 2010 - Council Meeting Summary Minutes File:6-30-2010 Meeting Minutes.pdf

"Council Member Marquez stated that she had looked at the study done by Management Partners and had done other research wherein she had found that no major U. S. city outside of California has an elected city attorney; therefore, she felt that the City does need a change to its charter regarding some of its elected officials."

4 motions were made during the council meeting regarding charter amendment options. These motions are summarized below.


  1. "A motion was made by Council Member Marquez, seconded by Council Member Brinker, that a proposed charter amendment be placed on the November 2010 ballot to change the city attorney, city clerk, and city treasurer positions from elected positions to appointed positions."
  2. "A substitute motion was made by Council Member Kelley, seconded by Council Member McCammack, that a proposed charter amendment be placed on the November 2010 ballot to change the city attorney, city clerk, city treasurer, 'and mayor' positions from elected positions to appointed positions."
  3. "Another substitute motion was made by Council Member Desjardins, seconded by Council Member Kelley, that the Council consider a charter amendment to make the mayor position a part -time position, elected for twoyear terms, who would share staff with the City Manager or the Council."
  4. "Another substitute motion was made by Council Member McCammack, seconded by Council Member Kelley,that a Charter Reform Commission be created to discuss the complete charter."

Each of the 3 substitute motions failed 4 to 3, recording the following votes:

  • Ayes: Desjardins, Kelley, McCammack.
  • Nays: Marquez, Brinker, Shorett, Johnson.

Substitute motions notwithstanding the original motion was voted on and carried 4 to 3, recording the following votes:

  • Ayes: Marquez, Brinker, Shorett, Johnson.
  • Nays: Desjardins, Kelley, McCammack.

"City Attorney Penman advised that since this affected his position he would have to declare a conflict and all documents relative to this measure that would normally be prepared and/or reviewed by his office would need to be prepared and reviewed by an outside attorney."

City council members Marquez, Brinker, Shorett and Van Johnson voted to put it on the ballot. McCammack, Kelley and Desjardins voted against putting it on the ballot.[7]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure C: Shall the Charter of the City of San Bernardino be amended to (1) make the City Attorney, City Clerk and City Treasurer appointed, rather than elected positions; (2) allow for greater flexibility in the employment of additional legal services; and, (3) add professional qualification requirements for the positions of City Clerk and City Treasurer?[8]

Lawsuit challenging ballot language

See also: 2010 ballot measure litigation

On August 26, San Bernardino residents, James F. Penman and Renee Affaitati filed a lawsuit in San Bernardino Superior Court. The lawsuit asked the court to re-write some of the arguments submitted by Measure C supporters for the official voter pamphlet. Penman and Affaitati said that the arguments were misleading and contained "numerous errors," mentioning a total of 16 separate issues.

The case was heard by Judge Michael Mink, a retired Los Angeles County judge serving on assignment in San Bernardino.[9][10]

In 13 of the 16 issues raised in the lawsuit, Judge Mink found in favor of "Yes on Measure C" side. In 3 of the issues presented in the lawsuit, the judge found in favor of the "No on C" side.

According to Mark Edwards, the attorney for the "Yes on C" campaign, "Judge Mink denied every single attempt by Mr. Penman to deny San Bernardino voters critical information about the tax savings that will be generated by Measure C."[11]

Similar ballot questions

A number of local ballot measures in other cities are grappling with similar local ballot questions on November 2, about whether to elect or appoint their city clerk, including:

Other cities are weighing in on the same question, but with regard to the offices of city treasurer and city attorney, including:

External links