Council members critical of "strong mayor" wording - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Council members critical of "strong mayor" wording

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Several members of the City Council today attacked San Diego's "strong mayor" form of government -- not the system itself but its name.

Council President Ben Hueso said at a meeting of the Committee on Rules, Open Government and Intergovernmental Relations that the form of government should be more like "strong mayor-strong council."

The city charter refers only to "strong mayor," said Catherine Bradley, the chief deputy city attorney.

The subject came up when Bradley sought direction regarding ballot language for a June 2010 measure on whether San Diegans want to make the current system permanent. The city is in a five-year trial period after changing over from a form of governance dominated by a city manager.

"That's such an emotive word," Councilman Tony Young said about the "strong" reference. "Of course you want a strong mayor."

Rejection of the ballot measure wouldn't mean residents want a "weak mayor or a weak council," Young said.

Whether it's referred to as strong or not, the City Council will have a lot to say over what voters have to choose from next June.

The way it's currently set up, San Diegans will be asked whether to make the strong mayor form of government permanent; if the number of council members should be increased from eight to nine; and if so, whether the council's power to override mayoral vetoes should require a two-thirds vote.

Hueso suggested a series of minor modifications to the strong mayor system, which Bradley said could be placed in a separate ballot measure for either June or November.

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