City Attorney’s Office Offers Empty Defense of Measure BBB

Ian Patton, Long Beach Reform Coalition
Late yesterday, the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office Deputy City Attorney Amy Webber – a lawyer with zero expertise in election law according to her own bio – provided a superficial, feeble and misleading defense of Measure BBB. After the measure was challenged in a legal analysis provided to the NO on BBB campaign (see yesterday’s press release) by attorney Gautam Dutta, a highly regarded practicing election law expert, Webber responded by ignoring Dutta’s argument.
According to Dutta, not only is state law clear that new term limits must be applied "prospectively" only (meaning, only looking forward, or in other words, starting the term limits clock afresh), there is clear precedent for a court rewriting a city term limits law which attempts to ignore the State Law—the case of Woo v. Superior Court which allowed former Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo to run for a third term, despite Los Angeles having a two-terms limit at the time.
Webber’s argument (commented to the Press-Telegram), essentially that BBB is not a new system of term limits, is extraordinarily disingenuous and relies on the public and the press not taking the few minutes simply to read the very short text of BBB itself. Anyone who does will see that in fact BBB does two things: 1) it first repeals the entire existing term limits section of the Long Beach City Charter (enacted by voter initiative in 1992, with 41,000 signatures and passed by a two-to-one landslide margin); and 2) it then replaces the current term limits with an entirely new term limits system based, not on name access to the ballot for candidates, as now, but rather a “lifetime” limit on serving, up to three terms, which in the case of current incumbents is illegal under the state code (because counting terms already served would not be ‘prospective’ application).
Attorney Dutta explained the legal argument in this 20 minute video interview with the NO on BBB campaign recorded yesterday and conducted via Google Video Chat (as Mr. Dutta is currently in the Bay Area):


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