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Mayor Garcia Proposes Changing LB's Term Limits Law To Allow Himself & Council Incumbents 12 Years Without Facing Third-Term Write-In Bypass But No Fourth Term; Garcia Calls It "Strengthening" LB Term Limits


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(June 9. 2018, 7:40 p.m.) -- Mayor Robert Garcia has proposed that the City Council schedule a special citywide November 2018 election -- with an initial cost estimate of from $470,000-$650,000 -- for up to five City Charter amendments.

One of the proposed Charter Amendments (covered in this article; other articles will cover the four other proposals) would make it easier for Mayor Garcia and City Council incumbents to seek an additional four year term in addition to the latest four year terms to which they were just re-elected by no longer requiring a third-term write-in (in the initial election to reach runoff) but not allowing a fourth term, with or without a write-in.

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The draft term limits proposal (which can be viewed here) would let LB's current Mayor and Councilmembers and those who follow avoid LB's term limit law for 50% beyond what LB voters voted to allow in 1992.

In November 2000 under term-limit approaching Mayor O'Neill, the Council proposed but LB voters refused to modify LB's term limits law to allow a partial write-in bypass (putting incumbent's name on June ballot if he/she finished first or second with write-in in April.) On a second try in May 2007 under newly elected Mayor Foster, LB voters approved the partial write-in bypass for runoffs...BUT simultaneously rejected -- by a more than 2/3 margin -- a measure to allow 3 terms/12 years...as Mayor Garcia proposes now.

Garcia's proposal would allow himself and Council incumbents twelve years instead of eight without facing term limits with no write-in bypass thereafter. In a letter accompanying the proposal jointly signed by Mayor Garcia and City Auditor Laura Doud, the two called the proposal "strengthening" LB's term limit laws.

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The joint letter from the Mayor and City Auditor also doesn't mention the cost of calling a special citywide election for November 2018. Mayor Garcia's agendizing memo for the item states in pertinent part: "FISCAL IMPACT [all caps in original]: Discussion of proposed amendments has no fiscal impact."

Responding to LBREPORT.com's inquiry, City Clerk Monique de la Garza said the estimated cost for putting one measure on the November ballot would be roughly $470,000, and that sum would increase by $45,000 for each additional measure. That would cost LB taxpayers $650,000 if the Council calls a November 2018 special election for all five of the Charter Amendments sought by Garcia and Doud

City Clerk de la Garza says the estimate she received from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for putting one citywide measure [Measure M] on the June 5, 2018 ballot was approximately $525,000.

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The complexity of the measure's draft text invites the conclusion that it was prepared by an attorney...although there was no preceding publicly voted Council action (which would have allowed public comment) asking the City Attorney's office to prepare such a draft ordinance (a common procedure.)

Amnesia File

In a November 1992, LB voters approved a petition-initiated term limits law allowing the Mayor/Council two four-year terms with further terms via write-ins.

In November 2000, LB voters rejected an attempt by then-Mayor O'Neill and some Councilmembers to allow a write-in bypass enabling a term-limited incumbent's name to appear on the June General Election ballot if he/she finished first or second in an April write-in. TThe change would have applied in the 2002 election cycle when O'Neill might benefit from its passage. The measure was supported in ballot arguments by Councilmembers Oropeza and Shultz, and opposed by Vice Mayor Dan Baker, and Councilmembers Colonna, Carroll and Kell. After the 2000 measure failed, O'Neill waged a write-in campaign in both the April 2002 initial and June 2002 runoff elections...and was re-elected to a third term.

In 2006, two-term 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell attempted a write-in and finished second to ballot-listed candidate Gerrie Schipske.

In May 2007, Mayor Foster and another Council tried again to allow a term-limit write-in bypass for a runoff election. It passed BUT voters rejected -- by a more than 2/3 margin -- an attempt to change LB term limits so that the Mayor/Council could serve for twelve years (three terms) without facing term limits...which is eerily similar to the proposal Garcia has advanced now.

In 2012, Councilman Patrick O'Donnell used 2007-enacted the term-limit bypass to wage an April write-in campaign and advance to a June runoff listed on the ballot where he won a third term. He then exited half-way through his Council term to pursue an Assembly seat in 2014, triggering a special election in early 2015 filled by second place June 2014 finisher Daryl Supernaw, who was re-elected without a challenger in 2016.

Mayor Garcia now seeks to eliminate the write-in bypass entirely. If approved by LB voters, the result would effectively allow Garcia and all Council incumbents an additional four term without requiring any write-in, lasting to 2026, with no write-in bypass thereafter.

Nothing legally prevented Mayor Garcia from proposing this Charter Amendment (and others arguably benefiting mainly the Mayor and Council) when the Mayor/Council put the Measure M (a General Fund/"blank check" revenue measure on the June 2018 ballot. A special citywide November 2018 election is estimated to cost an additional $470,000-$650,000.

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Future File

In recent months, speculation has swirled over whether Garcia might abandon part of the Mayor's term to which he was just re-elected to pursue a state Senate vacancy that will be created if his political ally, state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park), is elected State Insurance Commissioner in November 2018. Eighth district LB Councilman Al Austin, who will be term limited for Council in 2020, has also indicated he's considering entering that race if it materializes.

However Sen. Lara [the Dem party endorsed candidate] finished a narrow second to Steve Poizner [running as an independent] on June 5 (Poizner = 41.6%, Lara = 40.3%), leading some to believe Lara may not be a shoo-in in November.

Others have speculated that Garcia might also exit before his elected term ends if incumbent Cong. Alan Lowenthal (D, LB-west OC) decides to leave in two years...but that's less certain with the possibility that the House of Representatives may flip to a Dem majority in November 2018...and Lowenthal (now with seniority status) may choose to stay a while.

Garcia has refused to say publicly if he will complete the four year term to which he just sought and won re-election. An early Mayoral exit would trigger the need for a special citywide election at LB taxpayer cost to fill the vacancy.

Developing.


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June 10: Text smoothed 10:00 p.m. June 9 and some text added 10:45 a.m..
June 11: Text added to note that in May 2007, LB voters rejected -- by a more than 2/3 margin -- a measure (Prop C) to allow 3 terms/12 years.


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