City of Murrieta, Measures C, D and E (November 2010)

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Measures C (pertaining to term limits), D (pertaining to City Council salaries) and E (pertaining to administrative salaries) were on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters the City of Murrieta in Riverside County. All three measures were convincingly approved.

Measure C says that elected officials in Murrieta can't serve more than two consecutive four-year terms in office. Terms are considered consecutive unless they are at least four years apart.

Measure D says that members of the City Council cannot receive for their work as city council members a salary that exceeds 15% of the annual median family/household income in Murrieta. They also are not allowed to receive club memberships, medical or life insurance, or pensions, and any increase in salary must be approved by a 55 percent supermajority vote.

Measure E sets a salary limit on the salaries of Murrieta's chief administrative officials (not including police and other emergency public safety staffers). The limit is that annual salaries with benefits of a combined hourly rate with overtime and benefits -- including, but not limited to, car, gas, life insurance, health/medical insurance, and other personal usage benefits -- cannot exceed 2.5 times the median family/household income in Murrieta.

Murrieta, in southwestern Riverside County, had a population of about 100,173 in 2008. In 2000, its population was 44,282, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in California.

Aftermath

No city lawsuit

In the wake of Measure C's election victory, Murrieta's City Council considered filing a lawsuit to block its implementation. However, after the city council met in three private sessions in November to consider possible legal strategies, they decided not to take Measures C, D and E to court. City Attorney Leslie Devaney said, "The council's voted to do the best they can. Nobody wants to block the will of the people."[1]

"Implementing" ordinances

Then, in early December, the city council announced that on February 1, 2011, it will consider whether it might pass "clarifying" or "implementing" ordinances that would establish how the city will "carry out three ballot measures they overwhelmingly approved last month."[2]

On February 1, the city council did proceed to ask "its attorneys to draft ordinances spelling out exactly how the city would interpret and carry out the voters' wishes."[3]

At that city council meeting, about a dozen Murrieta residents spoke out against the council's actions. Eva Johnson, as one example, told the council, "You need to wake up. You can do all the legal mumbo-jumbo you want; the people passed it and that's it."[3]

Enactment of Measures C and D

In its meeting on February 15, 2011, the Murrieta City Council decided to enact Measures C and D exactly as written. This was a change from the city council's decision on February 1, 2011 to enact the measures as "clarified" by city attorneys.[4]

Supporters

Measure C, D and E were conceived of by Murrieta resident Bob Kowell and supported by the Limited Government PAC.[5]

According to its website, "The Limited Government Political Action Commmittee (LGPAC) was founded in 2007 by concerned citizens of Murrieta, California and neighboring cities. The LGPAC was formed to limit the ever increasing expansion of local government. LGPAC supports term limits, limits to city stipends and salaries without extraneously limiting police, fire, and emergency personnel salaries. LGPAC hopes to expand its influence to every corner of America to give the government back to the people. LGPAC is open to new proposals and initiatives that support our mission of limited local government, a government reponsive to its citizens."[6]

Measures C, D and E were also endorsed by the National Tax Limitation Committee.

Opponents

The measures were opposed by a group called "Southwest County Taxpayers for Responsible Government." Edward Shepherd, an accountant in Murrieta, was the treasurer of this group. Barbara Nugent signed the official voter guide arguments against it.

Measure C

Election results

  • Yes: 16,660 (67.20%) Approveda
  • No: 8,132 (32.80%)

Ballot language

The question on the ballot:

Measure C: Shall the ordinance prohibiting elected officials of the City of Murrieta and any of its political subdivisions from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms in office, with terms considered consecutive if they are at least four years apart, be adopted?[7]

Measure D

Election results

  • Yes: 17,111 (69.47%) Approveda
  • No: 7,520 (30.53%)

Ballot language

The question on the ballot:

Measure D: Shall the ordinance placing limits on City Council compensation to 15% of the City's annual median family/household income (exclusive of any amounts payable as reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official City duties); prohibiting City Council members from receiving any other personal benefits, including club memberships, medical and life insurance and pensions; and requiring that any increase be approved by 55% of the registered voters be adopted?[7]

Measure E

Election results

  • Yes: 16,401 (66.74%) Approveda
  • No: 8,175 (33.26%)

Ballot language

The question on the ballot:

Measure E: Shall the ordinance prohibiting chief City administrative officials, including the City Manager and their direct reports (but excluding the police and other emergency public safety personnel), from having either annual salaries with benefits of a combined hourly rate with overtime and benefits (including, but not limited to, car, gas, life insurance, health/medical insurance, and other personal usage benefits) that exceeds 2.5 times the median family/household income in the City be adopted?[7]

Lawsuit

On February 15, 2011, the Murrieta City Council passed an ordinance that allows it to exceed's Measure E's limits on what it can pay the city's top employees.[8]

As a result, it is likely that Measure E will end up in court, since Measure E's main backer, Bob Kowell, said that he will would sue the city if it did not implement Measure E. Kowell said, "The salaries of the city employees -- and not just city employees but state and federal employees -- keep going up while the salaries of the regular people keep going down."[8]

Rick Dudley is Murrieta's city manager. In 2010, his base pay was $210,000.[4]

Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Morris believes that Measure E as written violates California Government Code 36506, which says, "the city council shall set the compensation of all appointive officers and employees."[8]

Complaints to FPPC

Complaint by Barbara Nugent

After the election, Murrieta resident Barbara Nugent filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The Nugent complaint to the FPPC alleges that:

  • The Limited Government PAC put up signs without disclosing who paid for them
  • Did not file some required paperwork
  • Did not name Murrieta resident Bob Kowell as a major donor.
  • The treasurer for the Limited Government PAC is not a resident of Murrieta.[9]

Kowell said of the complaint that it is about issues that are "so small it's sort of ridiculous."[5]

Nugent also opposed the approval of Measures C, D and E, and wrote the official voter pamphlet arguments against them.[5]

Complaint against Nugent, others

Measure E supporter Bob Kowell also filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. His complaint names Barbara Nugent, Edward Shepherd and "Southwest County Taxpayers for Responsible Government", a group that opposed Measures C, D and E.[10]

Kowell's complaint alleges that "Southwest County Taxpayers for Responsible Government" committed five violations of relevant campaign finance reporting regulations. The alleged infractions are:

  1. FPPC regulation 18247.5: failure to file as a Primarily Formed Ballot Committee
  2. FPPC regulation 18450.1: failure to disclose committee name in advertisements
  3. FPPC regulation 18427: Failure to perform duties as an officer of the committee (Edward A. Shepherd, Treasurer)
  4. Failure to state professional legal advice (legal or professional help), if any. provided to Barbara Nugent for complaint number #10/1046 against the Limited Govemment PAC
  5. Failure to report Form 410 with the Murrieta City clerk as required by regulation for a PAC doing all its campaigning in only one city for 3 measures in that city.

Nugent and Shepherd (the treasurer of "Southwest County Taxpayers for Responsible Government") denied that any mistakes were made.[10]

Path to the ballot

Measures C, D and E were initiated city ordinances that gained a spot on the ballot via collecting signatures on initiative petitions.

External links

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Additional reading

References