How transparent is Measure U?

M■ By Melissa Diaz H. / Contributed

easure U was passed on the premise of oversight and transparency. Having consistently experienced the tendencies of our City Council first-hand over the last three years, I could not support a general tax measure. However, as I come from a family of public safety, I do support local control and law enforcement in general.
It is clear and evident, in some cases, that we need more qualified public safety personnel. This is where the concept of Measure U can best serve the entire community. I will give an overview of three main points concerning Measure U below. Over the next few weeks, I will go into more detail regarding each point.
When Measure U was presented at the Hemet City Council meeting on July 26, 2016, an overwhelming majority of people present spoke in favor of Measure U, but many people voiced concerns with the oversight committee selection process. Our City Council is the governing body that needs the oversight. The originally proposed Measure was significantly altered after public comments regarding the oversight committee selection process.
The committee selection was originally going to be multi-partisan with selections made by the fire and the police chiefs as well as the City Council. By the end of the Council discussion, the multi-partisan strategy was abandoned, leaving the City Council the only party selecting the committee. How is it ethical for the council to be in complete control of selecting its very own oversight committee? The marketing for Measure U had citizens believing that Measures U and E were essentially the same thing, when in fact, they were not.
I had very legitimate concerns regarding Measure U when it was first presented. Unfortunately, we are already seeing those concerns come to light. The Council has already voted to allocate funds (more than $2.3 million) for the implementation of Measure U without the oversight committee in place and without a penny in tax collected. Per Eric Vail during the Jan 10 council meeting, the oversight committee is to review the city’s proposed expenditures for Measure U funds.
Funds have already been allocated, so the committee isn’t exactly reviewing proposed expenditures. Originally, the Council was leaning toward interviewing all applicants together in a public meeting. The council decided on Jan. 10 that they will split the pool of applicants into two separate groups. Two council members will be assigned to interview each group of applicants. In this situation, it is not necessary to follow the Brown Act. The final interviews will be conducted publicly and by all council members. The final seven committee members will be selected at that time.

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