Amendments to the San Diego City Charter for removing elected officials from office should go directly to the City Council, instead of a commission, to save time and money, the county grand jury recommended Thursday.

In their first report of the year, the watchdog panel said the city charter only allows removal in the event of a death, resignation or recall, unless a provision that an official illegally spent city money is invoked.

The lack of an easier mechanism to remove an officeholder resulted in the recall effort against ex-Mayor Bob Filner, who was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women and eventually resigned under pressure Aug. 30. He later pleaded guilty to three charges and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

The need for clarified rules prompted a discussion among City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and members of the City Council about updating the charter, the city’s blueprint for governance. It can only be amended by a vote of the people.

Goldsmith called the charter a “mess,” with provisions that are “ambiguous, outdated and incomplete.” He said 48 sections need to be updated.

City Council members should discuss possible amendments within their respective districts, the grand jurors said.

“Action by the City Council to place its proposed revisions to the City Charter on the ballot without initiating the commission/committee process has the advantage of costing fewer taxpayers’ dollars in addition to saving valuable time,” the report said.

The grand jury recommended the City Council propose an amended charter that would include a list of removable offenses and require motions to have a super majority of at least six votes to pass.

Among the removable offenses suggested by the grand jury were convictions involving moral turpitude, insanity, no longer living in the city or district he or she represents and failing to discharge the duties of office over 90 days unless excused by at least six council members.

The city has until June 11 to respond to the grand jury.

–City News Service