|City Slow To Discipline Despite
Multiple And Continuing Violations
November 3, 2001
Despite multiple violations of regulations
prohibiting campaigning in uniform and an election season that is
rapidly drawing to a close, city officials charged with enforcement
appear to be paralyzed and either unable or unwilling to act. City
Manager Isiah Turner, on leave due to the recent death of his mother,
specifically charged Assistant City Manager Leveron Bryant, Human
Resources Director Cedric Williams and City Attorney Malcolm Hunter to
take appropriate action concerning the uniform violations.
With only two days left in the campaign and similar violations occurring every time a new mailer lands in mailboxes, City officials are having a hard time finding the decisiveness they found in 1998 when Brad Baxter was ambushed by some of the same city administrators. In 1998 when Parks and Recreation Director Brad Baxter was forced to resign because his job application said he had a master's degree and the resume attached to the application explained that he had completed the coursework but his thesis was still in progress? In that instance, action by the administration was swift and decisive.
In the current situation where uniformed officers of the Fire Department have repeatedly appeared in campaign mailers, disciplinary action is slow to emerge, if at all.
It actually seems pretty simple. A warning about campaigning in uniform was given by the city manager in April of this year. It reviewed Section 3(d) of Article XII of the City Personnel Rules, Section 11 of Article XIII of the Richmond City Charter and Government Code Section 3206, which prohibit an officer or employee of the City from participating in political activity while in uniform.
Despite that warning, it was politics as usual in Richmond. When a fire captain violated the rule in October, he was once again reminded by the city manager.
As the campaign draws to a close, violations are occurring wholesale while city administrators continue to study their options.
The City Personnel Rules are pretty clear. Rule X states: "The city manager may suspend, demote, reduce in pay, otherwise discipline or discharge any employee in he Classified Service, provided the provisions of Article XIII, Section M., of the City Charter and of these rules are adhered to."
The aforementioned Section M states: "For removals, demotions, deceases in pay, suspensions without pay and other forms of discipline of employees whose services are not satisfactory or who violate the provisions of this Article. Employees so discharged or disciplined shall have the right of appeal as outlined in this Article, and under the procedure outlined in the Personnel Rules," City officials are similarly reluctant to take responsibility for enforcing violations Chapter 2.42 of the Richmond Municipal Code, entitled Fair Elections. This RMC Chapter is where the campaign contribution limitation of $2,500 occurs. It is frequently violated when so-called independent committees collaborate with individual candidates to publish mailers. Recent mailers promoting Nat Bates and Lynn Wade are examples. These pieces typically cost $10,000 to $15,000 to implement, including photography, artwork, printing and mailing. The benefiting candidate should report that amount as a campaign contribution, but the magnitude would exceed the limitation, putting both the independent committee and the candidate committee in violation. The specific law states: (2.42.050 Campaign contribution limitations) " Limitations on Contributions. No person shall make to any candidate or independent expenditure committee and no candidate or independent expenditure committee shall solicit or accept any contribution which would cause the total amount contributed by that person to that candidate or independent expenditure committee to exceed $2,500 in each election cycle." The law also charges City officials with enforcement (see below), but this has never occurred. No City official charged with enforcement of any of these campaign regulations has ever taken enforcement or disciplinary action.
a. Campaign Statement Review.
1. The City Clerk shall monitor all campaign Statements and shall notify the candidate or committee of any of the following apparent violations of this chapter:
(a) Whether the required Statements have been timely filed;
(b) Whether the Statements conform on their face with the requirements of this chapter;
(c) Whether any reported contributions exceed the allowable maximums established under this chapter. 2. The candidate or committee shall be allowed to correct any reports within five (5) days after receipt of notice of an apparent violation sent by the City Clerk. b. Violations. 1. In the event that a candidate or committee fails to correct any reports within five (5) business days after receiving a notice of apparent violation under Section 2.42.080(a)(2) of this chapter, the City may bring a civil action against the candidate or committee for injunctive relief to enjoin violations or to compel compliance with the provisions of this chapter."
The result is that Richmond continues to be City with Bay Area-wide reputation for dirty campaigns, lax enforcement, posturing rather than substance and a tolerant electorate that endorses, if not relishes, all this.
The following story appeared in the November 3, 2001, West County Times:
CITY MAY DISCIPLINE UNION OVER
PAMPHLET : Firefighters Local 188 counters that Richmond is retaliating
for being identified at the center of pension fund allegations