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Council to Begin Debating Possible Charter Changes : City Hall: Mayor’s call for a convention measure is rejected. Council wants to decide itself which measures should go on the ballot.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Maintaining that they want to decide which government reform measures should be placed before voters, San Diego City Council members Monday refused to place Mayor Maureen O’Connor’s call for a charter convention on the ballot.

Instead, the council voted, 7 to 2, to meet March 21 to begin considering a wide variety of proposed campaign, government and ethics reforms for a possible ballot.

But O’Connor held out little hope that council would put before voters such proposals as a two-term limit for council members and a mayoral veto. She promised to continue a push for a citizens’ initiative to convene the convention to amend the 60-year-old city charter.

“You can have your workshops, but I don’t think it’s going to result in anything,” O’Connor said. “We had workshops, and it’s just ‘yappity, yappity, yappity, yap,’ and there’s never five votes for anything.”

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In her State of the City address last month, O’Connor called for the public to elect 15 representatives to hammer out charter amendments at a convention that would be put up for voter approval or rejection.

It was the second consecutive year that O’Connor used her annual address to call for government and campaign reform.

In 1990, she announced that she would step down as mayor at the end of her term in 1992 and called for reforms such as confining fund-raising to the nine months before an election, increased disclosure of major campaign contributions and barring council members from voting on projects involving contributors who have given them more than $1,000.

Those proposals have remained bottled up in a council committee.

Council members questioned the cost and necessity of a charter convention. Only Councilman Ron Roberts supported O’Connor.

“What people don’t like is the animosity and infighting” among council members, said Councilman John Hartley. " . . . I hear a need (among constituents) for us to get along with each other.”

Hartley also worried that “special interests” would be the only ones with enough money to get convention representatives elected in citywide races.

Hartley suggested that other issues, such as a ballot initiative to overturn the council’s decision to extend Jackson Drive through Mission Trails Regional Park, might be raised at the future council discussion. Hartley supports such a measure, which a citizens’ group is attempting to get on the ballot.

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