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San Diego’s Measure E: A Post-Filner Way To Boot Politicians

Editor's note: Our original story stated, `Civil or criminal charges would have to be filed against the official first.' It should have read and now reads, `There would have to be a criminal conviction or civil judgement against the official first.'

Photo credit: CityTV

Mayor Bob Filner tells the City Council he will resign.

Next month's ballot measure creates procedures for removing officials from office.

As San Diego voters ponder whom to elect next month, there’s a ballot measure asking them to decide how to remove someone from office.

A scandal from the recent past prompted the measure.

A big hole in San Diego’s city charter surfaced in 2013. Sexual harassment accusations had started piling up against former Mayor Bob Filner.

Officials sought to bar Filner from working alone with women. But they knew the move wasn’t sustainable and believed ultimately the mayor, who ultimately resigned, had to go. Yet, city rules offered no quick fix or even a process for an exit.

“The only way to remove an elected official was through resignation, death, or a recall which could take a long time,” San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.

But Goldsmith said Measure E actually creates procedures for removal and it’s quicker than a recall.

There would have to be a criminal conviction or civil judgement against the official first. Then, seven of the nine city council members would have to agree to put the official’s ouster to a public vote. Goldsmith concedes the process may be vulnerable to mischief.

“That’s the biggest risk you have with this, that you make it too easy to remove somebody and suddenly, it’s too political,” Goldsmith said. “We have to watch this carefully if this passes.”

But Goldsmith said having a process in place is better than none at all.

No argument against Measure E was filed in the office of the City Clerk.

Election 2020 news coverage


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Photo of Amita Sharma

Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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