Monday, September 28, 2009
C.A. Rejects Police Officers’ Bid for Vote on Pay
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Baldwin Park police officers are not entitled to a public vote on their salary proposal, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled Friday.
Div. Five affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe’s decision in favor of the city. Yaffe held that a plan to tie officers’ pay in the San Gabriel Valley municipality to that of others in the area constituted an unlawful delegation of local authority.
The initiative sponsored by the Baldwin Park Police Officers Association, which it sought to place on the ballot for this November’s election, proposed that the city survey salaries and benefits paid by 10 surrounding cities, pay its officers at not less than the average of the 10 cities, and be prohibited from employing fewer officers than it did in the 2004-2005 fiscal year or from contracting out police services without voter approval.
The surveyed cities would have been Arcadia, Covina, West Covina, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monrovia, Azusa, Glendora, Irwindale and El Monte. The requirements of the measure could be waived only by agreement between the city and the union.
The union filed a petition for writ of mandate after the city council declined to adopt the ordinance or place it on the ballot.
Presiding Justice Paul A. Turner, in an unpublished opinion Friday for the Court of Appeal, said the trial judge correctly denied the writ.
Turner acknowledged that city voters may enact employee compensation ordinances by initiative. But even if such an ordinance may be enacted by reference to salaries and benefits paid by other cities, he wrote, the union’s proposal “does much more than simply enact a parity policy with respect to compensation.”
By requiring the city to obtain union approval before modifying salaries or benefits, reducing the size of the police department or contracting out police services without voter approval, the proposal could interfere with the city’s statutory budget powers and extend beyond the legislative sphere into executive and administrative matters that are beyond the initiative power, the jurist said.
The burden, he added, was on the union to show that the initiative would not infringe upon those powers or adversely affect the state’s interest in effective law enforcement, and that the trial judge erred in denying the writ. It failed to do so, Turner concluded.
Attorneys on appeal were Dieter C. Dammeier and Russell M. Perry of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill for the union, and Joseph W. Pannone and Douglas P. Haubert of Aleshire & Wynder represented the city.
The case is Baldwin Park Police Officers Association v. City of Baldwin Park, B215477.
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