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Three Worthy City Measures : Good reasons for "yes" votes on L.A. Charter Amendments 1, 2 and 3

June 01, 1993

Three charter amendments on next Tuesday's ballot deserve support because they introduce much needed flexibility into Los Angeles' outdated City Charter.

Amendment 1: The City Charter currently requires that businesses of the same type be taxed at the same rate. Though fair in principle, the rules tie the hands of city leaders seeking to promote and target economic development, particularly in the most economically stricken parts of Los Angeles.

Charter Amendment 1 would allow the city to grant some companies special business-tax reductions or exemptions. The mayor and City Council would decide the amount and duration of the exemptions and identify eligible businesses. A "yes" vote on this important measure could help revitalize parts of the city hit hard by the recession and last year's riots.

Amendment 2: This measure would change the investment rules for the Fire and Police Pension System and the City Employees' Retirement System. These funds must now make most of their stock investments in companies that are listed on a national index, such as the New York Stock Exchange, and have a history of paying dividends. No other pension systems in California have these kinds of restrictions; they limit investments in worthy companies like Apple Computer, American Airlines and Bank of America.

The amendment would permit these funds to place up to 50% of their stock investments in companies that promise a good return but may not meet the requirements, if experts agree these investments are wise.

Amendment 3: Passage of this measure is key to revitalizing city management. It would exempt all top city administrators from Civil Service and direct the City Council to set new rules for the appointment, disciplining and removal of these individuals.

Civil Service protections that are necessary and appropriate for lower-level city employees have, in more than one case, shielded incompetent or intransigent department managers from appropriate discipline or even removal. This long-overdue measure should make city government more effective, productive and responsive.

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