Reports on California Charter City Movement: “Push for Charter Cities Enrages Unions”

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An article posted on the web site on September 30, 2012 (“Push for Charter Cities Enrages Unions“) notes that “the change from a general law city to a charter city is technical, even obscure, but very powerful.” That’s a good description of this Constitutional exercise of federalism in California.

The League of California Cities provides excellent neutral information on California’s city charters, while I provide information about city charters as a tool to circumvent the fiscally irresponsible, intrusive California State Legislature and the special interests that control it. A charter can advance economic and personal freedom on the local level. The article quotes me a few times:

“A charter needs to give a city full control of its municipal affairs, so it can implement lower taxes, reasonable regulation, fiscal responsibility, limited government, local control and more freedom from corrupt urban legislators,” according to Kevin Dayton, CEO of Dayton Public Policy Institute, an employment and labor specialist, and charter city expert.

“Defenders of the status quo prefer California’s advocates of economic and personal freedom to be apologetic, mealy-mouthed, submissive and ineffective. I noted that an ideal charter, with its ‘defiance of excessive state authority,’ would enrage numerous special interest groups,” Dayton said.

Dayton said that unions have steamrolled right over smaller cities’ efforts to adopt a charter. “Union leaders get very testy when someone points out that a charter city can establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates,” Dayton said.

“Significant and recent developments in proposed city charters in California have been related to explicit provisions concerning the establishment of policies for government-mandated prevailing wages, prohibitions on requiring contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions, and requirements for unions to get permission from city employees to deduct money from their paychecks to use for political purposes,” Dayton explained. “In addition, some charters have contained provisions meant to prevent the kind of corruption among city council members and city staff that occurred in the City of Bell in the late 2000s.”

Dayton said that voters need to seriously consider approving the charter city proposals. “If you support lower taxes, reasonable regulation, fiscal responsibility, limited government, local control and more freedom from corrupt urban legislators, vote yes on the charters. If you believe citizens are not yet giving enough of their money to the government, vote no on the charter.”

Of course, one of the comments about the article had to cite the example of the corrupt City of Bell as a reason why cities should not have charters. That’s the prime talking point of the unions against all of the suburban cities trying to protect their middle class citizens and their small businesses from being taxed and regulated right out of the state and off to Texas.

Note: a reference to the article is re-posted on

Public Unions Battle CA Cities’ Efforts To Escape Labor Rules – – October 1, 2012

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