|(Oct. 13, 2018, 9:55 a.m.) -- After public testimony (mainly in opposition), and after a
"Under state law, term limits measures may only apply prospectively."
Two ELB residents, already on record against the measure, found that verbiage alarming. Ann Cantrell, a non-lawyer, emailed the City Attorney's office seeking clarification. Gerrie Schipske, an attorney (co-counsel on litigation that produced rebates and ended City Hall's Water/Gas "pipeline fees" to fund non-utility operations) was more blunt: Ms. Schipske wrote: "Measure BBB Would Give This Mayor And this Council 12 More Years In Office" on her Open Up Long Beach blog and stated:
[OpenUpLongBeach (Schipske) text] I did some digging into the [CA] Government Code and [CA] Attorney General opinions about this issue. What I found is shocking! Government Code section 36502(b) requires that any term limits provision may only apply to terms served after the effective date of the measure. This means that should Measure BBB pass, this current Mayor and City Council will be allowed to seek 12 more years in office. No wonder they are pushing so hard for its passage!
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LBREPORT.com found this under CA Government Code section 36502(b) (effective Jan. 1, 1996):
...(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the city council of a general law or charter city may adopt or the residents of the city may propose, by initiative, a proposal to limit or repeal a limit on the number of terms a member of the city council may serve on the city council, or the number of terms an elected mayor may serve. Any proposal to limit the number of terms a member of the city council may serve on the city council, or the number of terms an elected mayor may serve, shall apply prospectively only and shall not become operative unless it is submitted to the electors of the city at a regularly scheduled election and a majority of the votes cast on the question favor the adoption of the proposal. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subdivision, the provisions of any city charter that, on January 1, 1996, impose limitations on the number of terms a member of the city council may serve on the city council, or the number of terms an elected mayor may serve, shall remain in effect. Unless otherwise prohibited by a city charter, any city charter may be amended pursuant to this section or pursuant to the procedures specified in the charter, to include the limitation authorized in this subdivision.
Accordingly, LBREPORT.com asked the City Attorney's office whether BBB would let incumbent Council members and the Mayor qualify for three more terms (12 more years) in addition to the terms they've already served.
On Oct. 8, the City Attorney's office released the following statement:
[City Attorney Oct. 8 statement]
Since lawyers can and do disagree professionally, we sought second opinions from attorneys practicing in the area of election law and from law school professors familiar with the area. To date, we've been unsuccessful in obtaining comments/opinions from either group for publication.
However with or without second legal opinions, in our journalistic opinion, it appears that the question of whether Measure BBB might allow LB's incumbent Mayor/Councilmembers twelve more years, not just four more years, may end up answered by a judge or panel of appeals court judges. If that happens, the outcome may or may not be what the City Attorney says, or what incumbent officials say, or attorney Schipske says, or what voters intend. We decline to predict the outcome of this.
What is clear is that Measure BBB, placed on the ballot by the Mayor/Council, would replace LB's two-term limit law, placed on the ballot by petition signatures, approved by voters in 1992 and amended by voters in 2007, that currently limits LB's Mayor/Councilmembers to two terms but lets voters choose to re-elect incumbents beyond two terms via a qualifying write-in.
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