A Victory for Direct Democracy and Taxpayers in San Bernardino County – Orange County Register

Entrenched politicians hate the tools of direct democracy, which include the powers of initiative, referendum and recall. Both at the state and local levels, they are doing everything they can to limit the exercise of those powers, including going to court to undo what voters are doing at the polls.

That’s what happened with Measure K in San Bernardino, which amended the county charter to impose a one-term limit on board members and cut their salaries by more than $200,000 a year. at $5,000 per month. The Red Brennan Group, which led Measure K, said it put the board of supervisors’ salary on par with the median household income in the county, and that a one-term limit would incentivize elected officials to focus on serving the public rather than maneuvering. for re-election.

Unsurprisingly, Measure K was extraordinarily popular with voters who passed it by a two-thirds majority (66.84%). But as the citizens of San Bernardino County celebrated, the Board of Supervisors launched a counterattack by filing a lawsuit to overturn Measure K. The Red Brennan Group rallied to defend their initiative and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation sent a friend of the court brief supporting the legality of the measure.

Along with their lawsuit challenging Measure K, the oversight board raced to its allies in Sacramento to change the law in a way that would undermine the initiative. Assembly Bill 428 would prohibit term limits of less than two terms for a County Board of Supervisors and further provided that a board could set the salaries of its own members. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposed the bill and argued that it frustrated the will of San Bernardino voters. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley, denied that his bill would have that impact, but his representations lacked credibility. Eventually, he relented and agreed to insert language into the bill that would make it clear that it “would not affect term limits that were lawfully in effect prior to January 1, 2022, in any county.” .

Last week, an appeals court issued an interim decision in the lawsuit and sided with voters, upholding Measure K’s one-term limit and the pay cut for supervisors. The court also upheld HJTF’s interpretation that the original version of AB 428 was an attempt to thwart the will of San Bernardino voters.

Noting that the amendment resolved any ambiguity, the court wrote: “It is therefore clear that the legislature did not contemplate that AB 428 would nullify the K measure. On the contrary, it agreed with the Jarvis association that the unmodified version threatened measure K, and so he modified AB 428 in order to leave measure K.

It is satisfying to be recognized for the work done by HJTA on behalf of taxpayers, not just the hundreds of thousands of HJTA members, but all California taxpayers whose interests are rarely represented by their elected officials.

Moreover, the Mesure K saga is a good reminder that the voters’ power of initiative, recall and referendum must be jealously guarded against politicians who conspire to evade the will of the voters.

Jon Couple is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.