REDONDO BEACH — Voters will decide whether they want a permanent mayor pro tem and several other changes in city government, but they will not be asked to vote on a proposal calling for the creation of a sixth council district and an equal vote for the mayor on council issues.
The City Council agreed this week to place three proposed City Charter amendments on the ballot in June, but it asked for further study of an amendment proposed by Mayor Barbara Doerr that would exchange her veto power for a vote on the council and would add another council district to the five-district city.
City Manager Timothy Casey said a staff evaluation of the mayor's proposals probably would preclude the issue from returning to the council before March 7, the deadline for ballot measures for the June election.
In addition to the mayor pro tem issue, the council agreed to ask voters if the council should meet twice a month instead of weekly and if the council should be allowed to appoint citizens to commissions and boards if the mayor has not done so within 60 days of a vacancy.
The council rejected a proposed Charter amendment submitted by attorney Stevan Colin that called for limits on campaign donations and regulations on how candidates run campaigns in the city.
The council flirted with Doerr's proposals, and even seemed to like her idea of trading her veto power for a vote on the council, but several members said the changes would require a massive reworking of the City Charter and could lead to political infighting when it came time to draw the boundaries of a new district.
Doerr's proposal included the provision for a sixth council member to avoid 3-3 deadlocks that could arise if the mayor gained the right to a vote on the council.
Councilwoman Kay Horrell said the redistricting would cause "bloodletting," and Councilman Archie Snow feared that each council member would be willing to give up only precincts he had lost in the last election. "Redistricting would be a real struggle," Snow said.
Doerr, reading from a study written four years ago by a Charter review committee created by the City Council, said the changes would eliminate the negative power of the veto and allow the mayor to participate more actively in council decisions.
Under the City Charter, the mayor cannot vote on council issues and cannot initiate motions or policy discussions. The mayor can veto any council decision, but the council in turn can override the veto by a 4-1 vote.
"I think it would be a positive change for the city and would only work to provide better communication within the City Council--including the mayor," Doerr said.
Councilman Ron Cawdrey agreed the veto power should be eliminated, but he said the council should know all implications of the proposed change before it considers placing the issue before the voters.
Snow said in an interview later that he also favors eliminating the veto power, but he opposes the addition of a sixth district. A sixth council member would make meetings unwieldy, could make it more difficult to get a consensus on issues, and would cost the city more in salaries for the council member and city staff that would assist him, he said.
Favors 4 Districts
Snow said he would favor the proposed Charter amendment if it called for four districts instead of six, but he predicted that voters would never agree to reduce representation on the council.
The decision to place the issue of commission appointments on the ballot stems from a longstanding feud between Doerr and the council over who has the power to appoint commissioners after a seat has been vacant for 60 days. The proposed amendment would clearly give that power to the council, but it would not affect the mayor's power to make appointments within 60 days of the vacancy.
The amendment to create a permanent mayor pro tem would allow the council to elect a mayor pro tem each year who would serve as mayor when the mayor is absent or unable to serve. Currently, the council elects a mayor pro tem for each meeting the mayor does not attend. The council included in the proposed amendment provisions suggested by Doerr that would prohibit the mayor pro tem from making appointments unless the mayor has been absent for at least 30 days.