If you live in Murrieta, in addition to a slate of candidates for City Council you will find 3 ballot measures on your card – Propositions C, D & E. As always, I encourage you to get all the facts and make up your own mind – but if you’d like a little help deciding what to do on these three – VOTE NO!
Measure C is a term limit proposal that would limit council members to two consecutive terms, then they’d have to take 2 years off before being eligible to run again. It’s a solution in search of a problem. If you look at the current council, the longest serving member is in the middle of his second term. 3 incumbents are seeking their second term this election. If you want to see what a waste of energy this proposition is, go down to city hall and look at the pictures of past councils. Murrieta has enjoyed regular turnover of council members since it’s birth nearly 20 years ago. I would challenge most of you to even recognize those councilmembers who served as recently as 10 years ago.
It’s not a problem – it doesn’t call for this solution.
Furthermore, as a former proponent of term-limits, I’ve seen the harm they can cause. Term limits for our state legislators was supposed to solve all kinds of problems but all it really did was eliminate one problem while creating several more. Instead of people with some institutional knowledge, people working together to get the job done, Sacramento is now stocked with novices who 1) come with their own short-term agenda, 2) are running for re-election almost from their first day in the seat and 3) are more beholden than ever to lobbyists and special interest groups to fund their elections and then educate them on the issues. It hasn’t worked for our state, there’s no reason to assume it would work any better for our cities.
Besides that, if somebody is really screwing up – there are two definite remedies – 1) the regular election process and 2) the recall process, which did remove on Murrieta Council member 5 years ago.They have proven to be quite effective here.
Measure D would cap a council members compensation at 15% of median household income. Murrieta median household income currently stands at about $90,000 a year which means a councilember couldn’t earn more than $13,500. Today a council member who takes full advantage of their position – meaning salary, travel, health coverage and extra pay for outside committee work could benefit by as much as $23,000/year. In reality, all of our council members are employed in their own businesses (we don’t have any career politicians) and no one has been paid more than $15,000. Their monthly council salary is $600 and the budget for city council salary and benefits is less than 1/3 of 1% of the total city budget. No one is abusing the system ala Bell CA and we have checks and balances in place to prevent that sort of thing anyway – not the least of which is an informed and vigilant population. This is another solution looking for a problem.
Measure E would cap the city manager’s salary at no more than 2.5 times the median household income or about $225,000. Rick Dudley makes somewhat less than that today – about $210,000 – which is right in line with similar cities. If you factor in his other benefits he would exceed that amount by a bit. The police chief and fire captain are right up there as well but this proposition does nothing to restrict their pay. Should we be hiring bargain basement city managers while allowing people working for them to earn whatever the market dictates? Shouldn’t a city’s decision to hire an effective administrator be based on their needs, as well as the competence and qualifications of the applicants rather than what they can hire under some arbitrary salary cap?
Again, this proposition is poorly crafted, addresses a problem we don’t have, unnecessarily restricts the city’s ability to hire quality employees and could potentially cost the city millions in lost opportunities.
We don’t need them. Vote NO on Murrieta Propositions C, D & E.
And while you’re voting, keep in mind that SRCAR supports incumbents Kelly Bennett & Rick Gibbs as well as challenger Allan Long for Murrieta City Council.