Culver City Community Coalition has launched the NO on Measure CA Campaign to defeat one of four local measures that will appear on the November ballot. The election will be held Tuesday, November 8. Vote by mail ballots have already been received.
Measure CA would remove the City Council’s responsibility for hiring, overseeing and conceivably firing the police chief and the fire chief. These powers would be transferred to the unelected city manager.
“Measure CA is undemocratic,” stated Karlo Silbiger, former president of the Culver City School Board, who is spearheading the effort to defeat this measure. “The citizens of Culver City elected our city council members to oversee the police and fire chiefs. They have carried out this responsibility for 70 years, and the system has worked well.
“By removing the police chief and fire chief from the Council’s oversight, our political leaders lose the ability to ensure that our police and fire department policies align with our community’s values, and we residents lose the power to hold City Council responsible,” Silbiger said.
This measure does not have consensus on the City Council. Two of our five councilmembers voted against putting it on the ballot. Councilmembers Meghan Sahli-Wells and Thomas Small have gone on record as being strongly opposed to Measure CA.
“At a time when police accountability is more important nationwide than it has ever been in our history, Measure CA would lead us in exactly the wrong direction, by taking oversight away from directly elected representatives, and putting it into the hands of an administrator,” Sahli-Wells said. “The City Council hires and fires the police and fire chiefs; the residents ‘hire and fire’ the City Council.
“These checks and balances have served our community well, and should be cherished and preserved,” Sahli-Wells said. “Measure CA is a solution in search of a problem.”
Councilmember Thomas Small agrees with Sahli-Wells. “We must preserve accountability, transparency, and citizen power. Measure CA would damage these by giving absolute authority over the police chief and fire chief to a single unelected individual. Residents should have direct control over these institutions,” Small said.
Gary Silbiger, former mayor of Culver City, expressed his concern about the process by which Measure CA was created.
“The City Council appointed two of its Councilmembers to a Charter Amendment subcommittee that held no public meetings, produced no minutes of those meetings, and asked for no input from the public,” Silbiger said.
“In 2005, the City Charter was amended during a totally open and transparent process. Measure CA, which is a significant and controversial change to the City Charter, should have been fully vetted in an open and public process, as was successfully accomplished in 2005, not behind closed doors. “
Mayor Silbiger explained that during his eight years on the City Council, council members evaluated the police chief and fire chief, and on a number of occasions took direct action to correct or avoid a problem. Often members of the public contacted the City Council to urge action.
“One of the more important things we did was to remove Police Chief Ted Cooke. Under his direction Culver City residents and others had been subjected to a great deal of racial profiling. He also issued an unusually large number of permits for concealed weapons. Other actions were problematic as well. We Councilmembers met and decided he needed to retire,” Silbiger said.
Claudia Vizcarra also is urging a no vote on Measure CA. Vizcarra, a former candidate for the Culver City School Board, is chief of staff to an LAUSD school board member.
“When it comes to issues of public safety, it’s critical that the voice of every member of our community is heard, especially those who are most vulnerable. We need to make sure that the people we elect to public office commit to this important responsibility,” Vizcarra said.
“No on Measure CA” has been endorsed by the Culver City Democratic Club; Culver City Community Coalition; Councilwoman Meghan Sahli-Wells; Councilman Thomas Small; School Board Member Dr. Kelly Kent; Alex Fisch and Deborah Wallace, members of the Culver City Committee on Homelessness; former Mayor Gary Silbiger; Karlo Silbiger and Nancy Goldberg, former school board presidents, and many others.