Three citizens were named to the Measure H Citizens Oversight Committee last week by the Ceres City Council.
The five-member panel is responsible for conducting annual reviews of the expenditures made with revenues from the half-cent Public Safety sales tax.
Cerina Otero, Vincent Truffa and Sopheap Dong-Carreon were each appointed to the panel. Others who applied were Joseph Jenkins and John Osgood III.
The council was poised to make the appointments on Aug. 8 but stopped short after last-minute questions arose from the council and public. The issue called into question the legitimacy of the council appointing a subcommittee of Mayor Javier Lopez and Vice Mayor Bret Silveira to interview the candidates and make recommendations on whom to appoint; or if Measure H itself orders that the entire council must participate. On Aug. 8 City Attorney Tom Hallinan opined that the council was proper in setting up a subcommittee for interviews in July but the council wanted a further review of Measure H language.
Last week Deputy City Attorney Nubia Goldstein reiterated the opinion that a subcommittee was proper and “in line with the language of Measure H which requires that the council make the final decision.” The attorneys’ opinion flew in the face of a statement made on Aug. 8 by now council candidate Osgood who insisted that the council wasn’t following the stipulations of Measure H.
The council voted 3-1 to make the appointments, with Councilman Mike Kline casting the lone “no” vote.
At the Aug. 8 meeting Councilman Jim Casey expressed disappointment that the entire council wasn’t able to interview the Measure H candidates. After the protracted discussion, Mayor Lopez said the council needs “do a better job at having these discussions before we bring it to us.”
Measure H passed in November 2007 in a 74.3 percent to 25.7 percent margin.
At the time of its passage the city expected to generate millions annually to fund up to new police officers and new firefighters. The tax also purchases new protective equipment for officers and emergency rescue equipment.