Ethics staff recommends Sheriff’s Dept. provide Election Day security

Questions have been raised whether the Sheriff’s Department can perform the security duties on Election Day and transport the ballots for counting, as it has since 2002.

The same charter amendment that voters approved in Nov. 2002 that put the Sheriff’s Department in charge of Election Day security included a provision that if there is a ballot measure that would have a “material financial” impact on the department’s staff then The City should come up with a different security plan.

The Ethics Commission meets Thursday to vote on whether the department has too much of a conflict as it relates to Proposition B, a ballot measure that would force city workers to pay more into their health and pension benefits. For the Sheriff’s Department, their workers would be impacted by the health benefit provision only. Their pension benefits would not be impacted since they are part of the California pension system, not The City’s pension system.

The Ethics Commission staff is recommending that the Sheriff’s Department perform the security duties as planned. “Staff believes that the best interpretation of [the charter section] would allow the Sheriff and the Sheriff’s employees to assist in the election when there is a measure on the ballot that will affect all City employees without singling out the Sheriff’s Department or another small class of employees,” said Ethics Commission director John St. Croix in a report to the commissioners. “Athough it is foreseeable that Proposition B will have some impact on a large number of City employees, it is difficult to foresee the precise financial effect on any particular employee or any bargaining unit of City employees.  Second, the effects of the measure on Sheriff’s Department employees will be proportional to the effects on all City employees.”

The commission meets Thursday, at 6 pm at City Hall, in Room 400.

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