From The Voice of OC:
In her Register article, Murray referred to Assembly Bill 1344, which requires two public hearings before a city charter is placed on the ballot for adoption. It was passed last year after it came to light that Bell leaders were able, without the knowledge of the vast majority of city residents, to push through a city charter that included pay raises for city officials now facing public corruption charges, according to ACLU attorney Bardis Vakili.
In her article, Murray argued that Tait's proposal, an amendment to the city's charter, would have violated the provision. According to the article, the law requires “extensive public noticing and a minimum of two hearings before the council may consider and approve initiatives changing the city's charter.”
Under Murray's reading of the law, Tait's proposal to amend the city charter would have been illegal if passed because it was only the first public hearing.
However, Tait said, Murray is wrong because the law requires only two public hearings when adopting a new city charter, not amending an existing one. As a charter city, Anaheim already had a city charter in place when council members considered Tait's proposal.
To support his reasoning, Tait, a state-licensed attorney, pointed to the language of the law, which uses the word “adopt,” not “amend.”
The law reads in part: “Prior to approving the submission to the voters of a proposal to adopt a charter, the governing body shall hold at least two public hearings on the matter of the proposal of a charter and the content of the proposed charter.”
Tait said Santa Ana, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach city councils all placed city charter amendments on the ballot last November without conducting two public hearings. According to Murray's interpretation, “all three of those city attorneys are wrong then, and they broke the law,” he said.
Murray claims she received two different legal opinions on her piece, which she said was solicited by the Register in response to an ACLU editorial favoring council districts. The law, she said, “will apply if there are substantive changes recommended by a council.” She said city attorneys up and down the state will be advising as much.
“I believe that changing how we're governed after 150 years forevermore is a substantive change,” Murray said. “I stand by my editorial.”
In a brief interview with a Voice of OC reporter after the meeting, Murray declined to identify the sources of her legal opinions. She declined to comment further on the matter.
ACLU attorney Bardis Vakili sided with Tait and said Murray's reading of the law is incorrect.
“The law requires significant noticing for adopting a new charter, but for amendments to a charter, it has to be proposed 88 days before the election on which it's going to be voted. And the mayor's August 8  proposal comported with that requirement,” Vakili said.
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