A month ago, when discussing a proposed resolution calling for a legislative fix to the problems caused by the landmark Citizens United case, San Diego City Council members Kevin Faulconer and Scott Sherman remarked that it's not a city council's job to weigh in on matters over which it has no control.
We disagree. The capacity of lower legislatures to run opinions on matters of vital nationwide importance up the chain of command is a component of a healthy democracy. Besides, as Council President Todd Gloria said that day, the Citizens United case has had, and will continue to have, huge impacts on elections in San Diego.
In the wake of the murders of 20 first-graders and seven adults in Newtown, Conn., there's a new national issue for the City Council to officially weigh in on: common-sense gun law. We urge the City Council to send letters to California's two U.S. senators—Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein—and San Diego County's five members of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of a bill that Feinstein has said she'll introduce on Thursday, Jan. 3, the first day of the 113th Congress this month.
Feinstein says her bill would ban the manufacture, sale and importation of more than 120 types of semiautomatic and other weapons that are compatible with high-capacity clips. It also would ban clips that can feed more than 10 rounds into a weapon. Importantly, it would include several provisions meant to close loopholes that freed certain assault-type weapons from the ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. It would require all currently owned weapons of the type that would be banned—which would be legal through a grandfather clause—to be registered into a national database that would include a background check of the owner.
The City Council's resolution should also urge support of any additional law that proposes to close loopholes in background-check regulations. It's been widely reported that 40 percent of all gun sales are made without the buyer having to undergo an examination of his or her criminal or adjudicated mental-health history. The resolution could also express support for any proposal to increase penalties for "straw" buyers—those found to have purchased guns on behalf of people who would fail a background check.
The Lemon Grove City Council has already passed a resolution supporting a new assault-weapons ban. The San Diego City Council—and all other city councils in San Diego County, for that matter, as well as the San Diego County Board of Supervisors—should follow suit. It's a great way to keep the public pressure on Congress to do something about gun violence.
Since we're on the subject of things the San Diego City Council should do: As soon as possible, it should amend current law so that a certain former member can work for Mayor Bob Filner.
Filner wants Donna Frye to lead his effort to make government more open to the public, but he's not allowed to hire her because of a city law that prohibits the hiring of retired employees who are receiving pension benefits. The point, as we understand it, is to bar folks from double-dipping the benefits.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has opined that Filner may hire Frye—should she be deemed someone who possesses a special skill—for 90 days of a calendar year.
That won't do. If it would pass legal muster, we urge the City Council to amend that law so that retirees can be hired as fulltime staff members without earning any new benefits, and perhaps have existing benefits suspended while employed, if necessary.
So far, it's been nearly impossible for reporters to get information from Filner's office. His tenure is only a month old, so we'll give him some time to get things sorted out, and the reported arrival of a new communications director this week should help.
We understand that Frye's role would not necessarily be to grease the relationship between the Mayor's office and the local press, but with her fantastic history of always being available for reporters, having her around wouldn't hurt in that regard. We hope the City Council will make it happen.
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