The job of Chula Vista’s city attorney may have a different description if a measure on the June 5 ballot gets enough approval.
At stake with Chula Vista’s Proposition C is an amendment to the city’s charter the city attorney’s salary, term length and authority.
Under the current charter provisions, residents in the City of Chula Vista elect a city attorney, but the attorney has no term limits and receives a $209,000 salary. The city attorney can opt out of decisions if he or she feels there might be a conflict of interest.
Voters must now decide whether to keep the city attorney “independent” of the city council, as the measure’s opposition says, or to add another attorney to the payroll to eliminate conflicts of interests, supporters say.
If Prop. C passes and a conflict of interest were to arise in the city attorney’s office, the measure would allow for a separate legislative counsel to take over. That judgment call would be placed with the city council, not the city attorney under current charter provisions.
“Chula Vista has an Ethics Committee to which complaints about ethical behavior by city officials can be submitted,” wrote supporter and Chula Vista resident Peter Watry in a letter to U-T San Diego.
“The Ethics Committee operates under the supervision of the city attorney’s office. What happens if someone submits an ethics complaint against the city attorney? And no matter how upset or concerned the council gets, they can’t fire the guy.”
Opposition to Prop C. comes from both sides of the political spectrum and centers around the cost to taxpayers. Those against the measure say it may end up costing an additional $150,000 a year to hire another attorney for the city.
“Ultimately, Prop. C is not about salary savings, term limits, or conflicts of interest,” say leaders of the measure’s opposition on the ballot.
“It's a blatant attempt to undermine the independence and authority of your elected City Attorney, with no regard for the added costs and dysfunction this will create at City Hall, and for citizens trying to get City services.”
Do you live in Chula Vista? What are your thoughts on Prop C? Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
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