PASADENA — In a surprise move, the Board of City Directors has voted to put two nonbinding advisory measures on the November ballot that ask if the city should change its present form of government.
Last week, city directors said they probably would not take action on the advisory measures, which were recommended by a Charter Review Committee appointed four months ago to study Pasadena's governmental structure.
"I'm pretty amazed and I admired their guts in doing it," City Director Rick Cole said of his fellow board members, who voted 4 to 2 on Monday to place the measures on the ballot. "It was touch and go til the very end."
A majority of the seven city directors had said last week that they were reluctant to place the advisory questions on the November ballot.
Those directors said they did not want to distract public attention from a bond issue to finance a new jail and police building that will also go before voters on the November ballot.
Directors Loretta Thompson-Glickman and Jo Heckman voted against placing the advisory questions on the November ballot, saying that they wanted the measures to go before the electorate in the spring municipal election. Director Bill Thomson was absent.
"I think that we're going to have so much on the November ballot," Heckman said Wednesday. "I felt that our attention . . . should be geared toward ensuring that the voters vote yes on the police building, which is a crucial issue."
The advisory questions ask whether Pasadena should keep its current council-city manager form of government and whether the city should hold at-large elections for mayor, a post that now is filled by the city director with the most seniority who has not served as mayor.
Also on the November ballot will be two binding measures: the bond issue and an amendment to the city charter that would change from five to four the number of city directors' votes needed to fire, hire or overrule the city manager.
Whether to change Pasadena's governmental structure has been debated for more than a year, with city directors expressing varying levels of opposition and support.
At issue in the debate is whether to eliminate the city manager's job, the city's most powerful nonelective office and whether to directly elect the mayor.
Directors Bill Bogaard, Thomson, Glickman, Heckman and Mayor John Crowley have voiced opposition to such changes. Jess Hughston and Cole have supported them.
After much discussion, city directors said, they voted to place the advisory questions on the November ballot and take their cue from the voters.
"I really want to put the issue and the uncertainty to rest," said Bogaard.
The controversy began last June when the board unsuccessfully attempted to form an assessment district that would have levied yearly fees to pay for street repairs.
Hundreds of angry homeowners revolted and the board abandoned the plan, as members said they had "made a mistake."
Most of the controversy centered around City Manager Donald F. McIntyre, who originally had presented the plan to city directors.
In the months that followed, a grass-roots resident's group called Citizens for Representative Government launched two unsuccessful petition drives to radically change City Hall.
The group proposed to do away with McIntyre's job and transfer most of its responsibilities to a directly elected mayor.
In March, city directors appointed the 11-member Charter Review Committee to study the issue.
Last week, the committee submitted an 81-page report that included its recommendations to place advisory questions on the November ballot.