The storm over the cumulative voting idea coming out of Charter Committee is unfortunate. Now obviously, I thought the idea had merit, or I would not have passed it along. We really didn't go off and lose our minds entirely. Among the supporting documents were a thirty page article from Hispanic Law Review, another by Lani Guanier, both extolling the virtues of cumulative voting for minority voters and candidates. Having put that out there, if the resistance by Council and voter is as great as it appears to be, I will lose no sleep if the item fails. It was one of the last two items our Committee acted on, and far from the top of my agenda in importance
On other matters, we are being second guessed also as to putting the appointed police chief back up when it has been so recently defeated. We saw this coming, in fact at the Council meeting creating the Committee, long before I had any notion I would be on it, I addressed Council on just this, explaining that while I would not be the one to bring it before the Committee, someone doubtless would. I recall that led Councilman Morrison to comment, "That's twelve" (items that is).
When our Committee found itself listening to Chief Vasquez, his sole announced opponent and a petition representing both police organizations signed by a majority of serving officers, all declaring the election process was tearing apart the force, it was terrible for morale, that is no longer a possibility, it is a self-evident truth. Realistically, the vote of two years past doesn't strike me as compelling. The measure was put on ballot by Monte Mahon for reasons having nothing to do with the measure itself, if after putting it there, Mahon said a mumbling word in public supprt of it, I didn't hear it. Matt Lewis and Rudy Izzard jumped in and tried to support it, but too little, too late. When one has the people who do the job complaining that elections make the job harder, that is hard to ignore. It would have been like a doctor telling a patient, "No you don't have that headache, you just think you have a headache."
I wasn't eagar to revisit the topic this soon, but I wasn't willing to look these guys in the eye and tell them their headache was all in their head. At the same time we agreed to put their request before Council, we advised them that politically this was going to require a lot of educational effort on their part if it were to have a chance, they claimed to be willing to do the work. All I ask on this one, voters, if you hear the officers making their case, open your minds, be aware, these are the guys who would know telling you they have a problem. Not just management, as far as we could tell, top to bottom of the force, and we heard not one voice from the force supportive of electing the Chief.
One of my pets predicted to be controversial; compensation for Council. On this one, we hardly set the pay at a level which will tempt people to toss over lucrative careers, but it just might be the difference that makes it possible for a good working class guy to serve without breaking the family budget. As best we can tell, the current pay, to use the term loosely, was set in 1913. Come on voters, most of us have had a raise since then.
Mostly, I do not want any one item to taint the Committee's whole work. Most of what we did was overdue housekeeping. It makes for a lot of ballot items because election law insists we put every change out separately. Council will determine the final ballot content and language. In fact, Council is perfectly free to scrap us entirely and pass its own agenda, or none at all. We hope not, but I throw that in to remind, we are not some power-grabbing clique, we are not given that authority if we wanted to be.
We might ought to have done a more agressive job of keeping everybody up to speed, I did forward my sponsor meeting minutes as we went along. Unfortunately, our meetings got zero press, until the last meeting, and that was the meeting the cumulative voting hot potato came along.
Council will get this from us formally on Aug. 7, they will have until Sept. 5 to decide how much of it the voters get to look at. Between now and the actual election in Nov. there will be a lot of time to listen, learn, and decide. If it seems like a large plateful, we really didn't intend to get overly ambitious, but this job hadn't been done in 30 years.