Voters urged to curb pro-union favoritism

Getting out from under prevailing wage law

Victorville was incorporated on September 21, 1962, as a General Law city and has operated under that system ever since. Now, through Measure P on the June 3 ballot, the city wants to change the system and join the other 20 percent of California incorporated cities who rule themselves in that fashion.

There are a number of ways Measure P won’t change the city’s way of doing business. It will still be able to enact local police, sanitary and other ordinances and regulations as long as they are not in conflict with state law. Its taxing power won’t change; it may only impose taxes authorized by the legislature. It will retain the power of eminent domain; it will retain the authority to provide light, water, power and transportation; and it will be able to provide services as permitted by state law (Parks and recreation, police and fire protection, waste management and the like).

What will change, if voters give the go-ahead, is the city’s ability to adopt ordinances that may avoid mandated state programs that influence municipal affairs.

As a General Law city, Victorville is subject to the legislative process in Sacramento, most important of which is that the city’s revenue fluctuates up and down depending on what state government does.

Chief among the drawbacks of General Law cities, in our view, is the one that mandates that any public works project of the city is subject to the state’s “prevailing wage” law. The prevailing wage is, of course, a creature of the unions, and means that if Victorville contracts for building an overpass (Does Nisqualli come to mind here?), the contractor must pay its employees what essentially are union wages. And what that means is that the Nisqualli project, under General Law rules, would cost Victorville taxpayers about 20 percent more than if the city were able to award the contract to a bidder who didn’t have to pay union wages.

There are other differences, of course, but it seems to us that the real advantage of adopting a City Charter would be that Victorville would then become a “home rule” city. Which means that elected officials of the city would have a far greater degree of flexibility in meeting the needs and desires of residents. And that means that under a City Charter — essentially, a constitution — city officials would be much more directly responsible to residents for the city’s operations.

We like that, which is why we think a Yes on P is a good idea.


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