The city of San Diego’s proposed response to a county grand jury report on removing elected officials agrees with the panel’s findings, but calls for further study of three of the four recommendations.

Last month, the grand jury said the City Charter should be amended to allow for elected officials to be removed, and that the City Council should act quickly. The report was prompted by ex-Mayor Bob Filner’s misconduct that led him to step down last August.

Official portrait of Bob Filner as mayor of San Diego. Courtesy City of San Diego.

The charter only allows for an officeholder to be removed in the event of death, resignation or recall, unless a provision is invoked indicating that an official illegally spent city money.

The lack of an easier mechanism resulted in a recall effort against Filner, who was accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women. He later pleaded guilty to three charges and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

A proposed response to the grand jury, drafted by the city’s Independent Budget Analyst, agrees with findings that the charter should be amended, and that the City Council can develop the revisions to submit to voters on a future ballot.

Changes to the charter, which is the city’s prime governing document, require a public vote.

The IBA also said recommendations by the grand jury to identify other reasons that someone should be removed from office, and to allow the City Council to dismiss an official with a six-vote supermajority, require further analysis.

A list of offenses that could lead to removal also needs study, according to the IBA.

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 was elected to represent, and failing to discharge the duties of office over 90 days unless excused by at least six council members.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner have both called for formation of a charter review commission that would study those issues.

Goldsmith has called the charter a “mess,” with provisions that are “ambiguous, outdated and incomplete.”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

The City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, which is chaired by Lightner, is scheduled to consider the proposed answer to the grand jury next week.

The city has until June 11 to respond to the report.

– City News Service