Concerned that the then Police Board might unilaterally act to contract out police services, in 2009 an Initiative Petition was circulated that would require any contracting out action require the vote of the people.
This petition garnered strong support, with more than twice the signatures required by law.
Although the Ordinance was written with the original intent to be placed on the ballot for adoption, state law says that such local citizen initiatives (like the Voter Rights Ordinance) can ALSO be enshrined by a majority vote of the board.
Voter Rights Ordinance was Adopted in 2009 by the Board
Based on listening to the meeting audio (Oct. 8th, 2009 - HERE, discussion starts around 1:53:33), the 2009 Board decided - based on their meeting preparations and public discussion - that allowing people the right to have a vote on such an issue would not cause any harm, and that a direct adoption would save the taxpayers the fees of a special election (~$25,000).
So the board voted to adopt the ordinance. Nothing in the minutes or notes from the original legal council (the law firm of HansonBridgett) makes any indication of legal issues with the action they took.
The public deserves a
right to vote.
And any board that decides to contract out without the support of the people should be recalled.
Is it law?
In the absence of a counter citizen initiative (pursuant to Election Code) or a court case, the ordinance remains in affect. So yes, it is local law.
Because this was a citizen’s “Initiative Ordinance”, the Election Code is very clear that the ‘Voting Rights Ordinance’ is not subject to the same rules as “Board Ordinances”, and therefore it cannot be repealed by future boards unless done by the citizens.
Current Board Seeking To Contract Out Without Vote/Will Of The People
The current Board appears to be exploring contracting out our police department without the consent or vote of the people. In the RFP for police services, it makes no mention of a vote of the people, and the RFPs have already been sent to El Cerrito.
These are presumptuous actions taken by our current board, specifically protected by the 2009 Voter Rights Ordinance.