Commentary: Measure EE would protect the city

As members of the 2012 Citizens Charter Update Committee, we would like to share with you why we support Measure EE and why it is good for Newport Beach.

Our committee was appointed by the City Council and represents every area of Newport Beach from Newport Coast to the Peninsula. The items we considered for reform were suggested by our city manager, Dave Kiff, based on his three years of experience working with our city charter and identifying provisions that were hampering efficiency or, because they dated from the 1950s, no longer reflected best management practices.

Our committee held more than 10 hours of hearings and listened carefully to testimony from the community. Our efforts were guided by the principles of making our city government more efficient, saving taxpayer dollars and protecting taxpayers against risks from events such as class-action lawsuits, which have as their goal personal enrichment at the expense of the city's residents.

We strongly believe the recommendations that became Measure EE accomplish these goals. During our hearings, a group of four individuals raised novel theories about council compensation, conflicts of interest and the need for class-action protection of our taxpayers. We asked the city attorney to carefully review these claims, and in each case, this small group was found to be misguided and flat-out wrong in their analysis.

Now that the campaign is underway, these four individuals continue to make these claims. At a recent meeting of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce, one of them asserted that "I actually don't believe in an efficient city government."

At least three self-identified opponents of Measure EE are now suing or have in the past sued the city. One of them sued for $250 million. The prohibition against class-action lawsuits aimed at the city appears to be what fuels their efforts to defeat Measure EE.

Measure EE will save tax dollars, clarify council compensation without a penny of increase to anyone, expand and augment our conflict-of-interest provisions with the highly developed state law provisions to provide bright-line tests for conflicts, and add important protections for all taxpayers against lawsuits from enterprising lawyers.

We are proud that the work of the 2012 Citizens Charter Update Committee has been recognized and supported by the entire council, the Orange County Taxpayers Assn., the Newport Beach Firefighters Assn. and the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. We urge you to vote yes on Measure EE.

PAUL K. WATKINS, PAUL GLOWIENKE AND JOE STAPLETON serve as members of the Citizens Charter Update Committee.

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