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Refusal to Study Growth Vote Called OK : City Attorney Backs Registrar's Turning Down of Council Request

November 24, 1988|LEONARD BERNSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

The San Diego City Council, still seeking to assess public support for growth control before a Nov. 30 meeting on the subject, apparently will not have the benefit of an analysis of the Nov. 8 vote on slow-growth Propositions H and J.

City Atty. John Witt reported Wednesday that County Registrar of Voters Conny McCormack was within her legal rights in refusing to conduct the analysis, which was requested Nov. 10 by City Clerk Charles Abdelnour.

City Attorney Satisfied

"I am satisfied that there has been no abuse of discretion by the registrar in declining to conduct the review requested by the city clerk," Witt wrote in a memo to Mayor Maureen O'Connor and the council members.

Convinced that the landslide defeat of the measures resulted because the city's slow-growth majority divided its vote between the two, O'Connor and some City Council members had called on McCormack to determine how many voters cast votes against both Propositions H and J.

The information would have been used during the Nov. 30 workshop, when the council will begin to decide whether to impose parts of their slow-growth plan through ordinances.

But McCormack refused, telling Abdelnour on Nov. 15 that, "The state Elections Code prevents us from making a count of the ballots as you requested." Abdelnour turned the matter over to Witt's office, which sent attorneys to meet with McCormack and County Counsel Lloyd Harmon Jr. before issuing an opinion Wednesday.

Mikel Haas, deputy city clerk for election matters, said the request pertained to "important information that the council and mayor wanted, and it's frustrating not to be able to get it."

Peter Navarro, economic adviser to Citizens for Limited Growth, which sponsored Proposition J, said he was "both astounded and disgusted at the city attorney's refusal to press for an answer to what is unquestionably the $64,000 question in terms of what to do next on growth controls."

The council will, however, have the results of a 20-question poll of 600 voters commissioned by City Manager John Lockwood in an effort to gather the same information.

Besides determining whether voters rejected both measures, a private pollster hired by the city asked why they voted for or against Propositions H and J, Lockwood said, adding that results of the poll are expected Monday.

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