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Term Limits issue moves ahead

Attorney General assigns staff, reference number, decision months ahead
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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An Attorney General decision on the legality of Measure A, the Loomis term limits initiative has taken a small step forward. While a decision is still months away, Town Manager Perry Beck said the Attorney General’s office has given the question a reference number and assigned it to a deputy attorney general. Beck also said the Attorney General’s office has requested and has been given various documents by the Town, including a legal analysis of the issues written in August 2010 by Dave Larsen, former town attorney. Documents created in December 2010 and January, in preparation of filing a Quo Warranto were also requested. Staff at the Attorney General’s office, Beck said, advised him that the process normally takes three to six months before drafts are prepared and then circulated through internal channels. “They also advised that they are behind schedule on the many requests they have received,” Beck said. Measure A, the term limits initiative for Loomis town council seats, was approved by voters in the Nov. 2010 election. The measure contains two retroactive legal issues in one phrase, according to former town attorney Dave Larsen. The phrase is “a member who has served more than two terms prior to August 1, 2010 must sit out eight years.” Larsen said one issue is the retroactive start date of Aug. 1; the other is that the measure counts a council member’s prior terms served. The retroactive phrase in Measure A would apply to councilmen Miguel Ucovich and Walt Scherer. Both councilmen have served more than two terms and both were re-elected to the council on Nov. 2. To date, the town has spent more than $36,000 in legal fees in order to clarify the initiative’s legality. In March, the town submitted a seven-page letter to the attorney general’s office that gave background on Loomis council and Measure A and asks two questions regarding the retroactive clause. The first question is if the government code stating term limits “shall apply prospectively only” means that prior time served in office, including a partial term, may not be counted. The second question is if the ordinance was adopted on Nov. 2, 2010, and council members were also elected on the same day, would they be entitled to serve two more terms before being subject to the 8-year waiting period. The remaining pages of the letter presented applicable law and analysis and cited the government code, the elections code and the intent of the legislature when they passed Senate Bill 2 authorizing term limits. Beck said the term limits question has been given a reference number of 11-401 and said individuals may now submit information or background on term limits to deputy attorney general Marc Nolan at (213) 897-2255 or email to marc.nolan@doj.ca.gov.