Opinion -- El Dorado County Charter Protects our Protectors

by Placerville Newswire / Nov 30, 2017 / comments

[TODD WHITE]

In 1994 El Dorado County voters decided to pass its own charter, which outlines the manner in which they would like to have county government held accountable to the people. The county charter preamble outlines this intention: “We, the people of El Dorado County, adopt the charter to provide a county government that is responsive to the public safety, infrastructure and other appropriate needs as to be provided by county government in a democratic and just manner.”

Currently, the Charter Review Committee, which is appointed by the Board of Supervisors, is reviewing the county charter and will be recommending changes to the board, like it did two years ago.

Unlike a couple of years ago, the changes that may be recommended are not minor in nature, but could greatly restrict the public’s ability to elect their own representatives. The positions possibly affected include auditor-controller, treasurer-tax collector, recorder-clerk and the county surveyor. If these department heads are not elected by the people, the Board of Supervisors would appoint them.

Additionally affected would be the compensation of our local law enforcement, which is outlined in Section 504 of our county’s charter. If Section 504 is eliminated, the salaries of our local law enforcement could be negatively affected. Section 504 requires the Board of Supervisors to adjust the salaries of law enforcement to be “at least equal to the average of the salaries for the comparable positions in the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Amador County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.” Section 504 needs to stay in place to make sure these basic salary protections remain in place.

With the recent announcement of current Recorder-Clerk William Schultz’ retirement following next year’s election, the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff’s Association decided to endorse in the election of his replacement. Usually the EDCDSA wouldn’t become involved in this race, but with the potential changes to the charter its membership realizes they need elected department heads in place who are knowledgeable of the county charter and who will best advocate for the needs of local law enforcement and the needs of all people in El Dorado County.

I am truly humbled and grateful for the EDCDSA’s endorsement. The men and women of our local law enforcement are the real life embodiment of our community’s heroes and their sacrifices to our community should never be disregarded or taken for granted.

With the EDCDSA, I agree that the voter-approved charter puts distinct limitations on bureaucratic government and allows the people to elect those who represent them. We need elected county department heads in place who recognize that any changes to the charter put Section 504 at risk. The people of this great county need to retain their authority to ensure that every member of local law enforcement is properly paid. A vote for Todd White for recorder-clerk is a vote for the county charter.

TODD WHITE
Pollock Pines