Campaign begins on term-limits increase

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The proposal has been named Measure U.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The campaigns for and against the proposal to increase the number of four-year terms a person can serve on the council from two to three will likely have drastically different financial backing. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who first requested the item be put on the ballot, said the only money she will spend on the campaign would be the cost to put up a Web site. Meanwhile, former Planning Commissioner Richard Carrigan said he plans to spend about $24,000, the same amount he spent in his successful opposition to the Malibu Bay Co. Development Agreement campaign in 2003.

This week, the term-limits increase proposal, which the council unanimously approved earlier this month to place on the ballot, got a name-Measure U. And the arguments that will appear on the ballot for and against Measure U were released.

Conley Ulich wrote the argument in favor of the measure. The other people who signed their name to it were Parks and Recreation Commissioner Doug O’Brien, local investor Kirby Kotler, former schoolteacher Anne Payne and emergency room doctor Sandra Tuero.

Carrigan wrote the first draft of the argument against the measure, although he said the others who signed their name to it helped craft the final copy. They were businesswoman Sherman Baylin, activists Rich Fox and Emily Harlow, and former Planning Commissioner Deirdre Roney. The inclusion of Roney’s name on the argument brings her back to political scene for the first time since Councilmember Sharon Barovsky controversially fired her from the commission in late 2003.

The opposition called Measure U an “outrageous power grab.”

“Sixty-four percent [the actual number is 65 percent] of Malibu voters voted for term limits for council members in 2000,” the opposition wrote. “Now that the City Council incumbents are facing removal from office as called for by the law, they arrogantly want to change the law. Don’t let them get away with it!”

Conley Ulich said in an interview on Tuesday that the measure was actually a “power of the people grab.” When asked to comment on the opposition’s argument, she said, “There is an overuse of exclamation points.” She added she had no opinion about the accusation that Measure U was a power grab, saying, “He’s [Carrigan] entitled to his opinion. I have no opinion on what’s right or wrong for somebody to write in a ballot argument.”

Conley Ulich wrote in the pro-Measure U statement that limiting council members to eight years in office means the city would lose “critical institutional memory.”

“Frequent turnover may leave only staff, bureaucrats and lobbyists in command of issues, process and political expertise.”

Conley Ulich added that eight years is sometimes not enough time to get some jobs done, pointing to the 20-year dispute between Malibu and the California Department of Parks and Recreation over Bluffs Park. She also noted that several local cities do not have term limits.

Carrigan said he was unimpressed with Conley Ulich’s argument. He said her fear of losing institutional memory was unnecessary in the information age when one can watch old videotapes of meetings and review documents and other materials. He added that her mentioning of several cities not having term limits was not as strong as the fact that more than 3,000 cities in the United States have them.