Wednesday Dec 15 2010
Measure A heads to attorney general
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
Term limits initiative could be bound for Superior Court
The retroactive issues of Measure A, the Loomis term limits initiative passed by voters in November, is going to the state Attorney General. “At least in a manner of speaking,” said town attorney Dave Larsen. According to Larsen, the term limits initiative contains two retroactive legal issues in one phrase: “a member who has served more than two terms prior to August 1, 2010 must sit out eight years.” One issue is the retroactive start date of Aug. 1; the other is that the measure counts a council member’s prior terms served. Larsen said it is illegal to make laws that apply to an elected official’s previous terms, but said “a third-party, neutral” will need to clarify the measure’s legality. According to section 36502 (b) of the California code, “Any proposal to limit the number of terms a member of the city council may serve on the city council, or the number of terms an elected mayor may serve, shall apply prospectively only.” The dictionary definition of “prospective” is “of or in the future.” The Loomis Town Council, with council members Miguel Ucovich and Walt Scherer recused, directed staff at a special meeting on Dec. 7 to file a quo warranto lawsuit with the state Attorney General’s office once the new council is seated. According to Larsen, the town did this in order to implement Measure A without violating the law. Ucovich and Scherer were re-elected to the council on Nov. 2, but the retroactive phrase in Measure A would apply to them. Larsen said the lawsuit in the Superior Court can only be filed with the permission of Kamala Harris, the newly elected state Attorney General. “If permission is obtained, the lawsuit will seek to remove Ucovich and Scherer from office if the retroactive portions of Measure A are found to be legal,” Larsen said. Larsen said, if the Attorney General withholds permission to file because the retroactive portions of Measure A are illegal, it is likely that she will not give permission to file the lawsuit and Ucovich and Scherer will remain seated. On Dec. 7, councilmembers Rhonda Morillas and Russ Kelley and Mayor Gary Liss voted to certify the election and seat Ucovich and Scherer and new council member Sandra Calvert at the regularly scheduled Dec. 14 meeting. The council also said a public workshop or meeting would be held in the near future to allow public participation. Larsen said the Attorney General can withhold permission to file the lawsuit because it lacks merit, or recommend it to go before a judge. During the Dec. 7 meeting, council held a closed session, attended by Liss, Kelley and Morillas, to conduct a conference call with legal counsel on anticipated litigation. Larsen later said a call was held with Sacramento attorney Rich Miadich, of the Olson, Hagel and Fishburn law firm. During the meeting, Sonja Cupler, a Measure A proponent, called the situation a “huge, huge mess” and said she was disappointed in the way the majority of the council was handling it. Liss asked Cupler, during the meeting, if she objected to seating the incumbents. “No, because it doesn’t sound like this will be resolved anytime soon and you still need people on the council to represent the town,” Cupler said.