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Commentary: Charter would reduce Sacramento's hold [corrected]

Can you remember the last time Sacramento passed a law that made our city better off? Neither can I.

However, I can think of plenty of laws Sacramento politicians have approved that imposed costly mandates on our city, dictated how we can spend our own local tax dollars and told us how we must conduct business in our own city.

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For too long, Costa Mesa has had to listen to Sacramento politicians who are out of touch with our needs, who are controlled by special interests and unions only looking out for themselves.

FOR THE RECORD:

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This commentary features multiple passages that originally appeared in a Sept. 19 commentary written by Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan. The similarities between the two commentaries were not detected during the editing process.

Cities throughout California have grown equally frustrated over the continued power grabs by Sacramento. That's why 123 cities throughout our state have decided to implement their own charters, or local constitutions, that are each specifically tailored to address and protect their local needs.

This November, Costa Mesa has an opportunity to join those other cities and finally break free from Sacramento. This will regain the local control we desire and protect our local taxpayer dollars. We can accomplish this by approving Measure V, which allows Costa Mesa to adopt its own charter.

The charter contains a number of provisions that give our city greater flexibility over local affairs while providing an opportunity for significant taxpayer savings.

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To begin with, the charter will implement fair and open competition for public works projects within Costa Mesa. This will reduce costs and free up funds for improvements to roads, libraries, parks and other public services that we count on our city to provide. Furthermore, this provision will protect all workers — both union and non-union — and ensures they all have an equal opportunity to compete for projects.

In addition Costa Mesa will be exempt from prevailing wage laws, which will further reduce expenditures by our city on public projects.

These two sections alone will save Costa Mesa taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. They will also improve Costa Mesa's ability to provide and grow local jobs for local workers.

Cities throughout California face bankruptcy under the weight of unsustainable pensions and overly generous benefits provided to city employees. As an answer to this daunting reality, Measure V will specifically require that Costa Mesa residents vote before there are any increases in city employee retirement pensions or post-retirement benefits.

This change will implement a safeguard against politicians providing "Cadillac" retirement plans in exchange for political support. However, to ensure fairness, this will not apply to cost-of-living adjustments, which would continue to increase accordingly.

In addition, the charter will prohibit the city from collecting any political contributions through internal city payroll deductions. This protects our city workers from having to financially contribute to political causes they might not support themselves. This provision will further limit the influence that special interests and unions have on our local politics.

Beyond the clear financial benefits that Measure V provides, the charter will transfer power away from Sacramento and back into the hands of Costa Mesa residents. With local power restored, our citizens will have a greater voice in the affairs of our city and will hold our local leaders accountable for the decisions that affect Costa Mesa.

This November, Costa Mesa residents have a rare opportunity to send a strong message to politicians in Sacramento. By supporting Measure V, Costa Mesa residents will stand strong in favor of our own local control and taxpayer savings.

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KENT MORA lives in Costa Mesa.

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