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The sample ballot which the clerk sends to each voter must contain a statement in not more than two hundred words of the reasons for seeking the recall. If the officer in question so desires, the ballot may also contain a statement of his side of the case in not more than two hundred words. His name is not printed on the ballot as a candidate; but each voter at the election must vote Yes ” or “No” on the proposition of recalling him. The voter must also vote for one of the candidates whose names are printed on the ballot, whether he votes for or against the recall. If the vote on the recall proposition fails, the officer retains his position; if it carries, the candidate receiving the highest vote is elected to succeed him.

70. No Responsible Head to our County Government. — There is no way of promptly getting rid of an inefficient elective officer. Removal either by the superior court or by the recall is a slow and cumbersome process. There ought to be some method of dismissing an inefficient officer without either a trial or an election. Because of the lack of any such method there is no responsible head to any of our county governments. We have seen that the financial officers are to a certain extent under the control of the board of supervisors; but, inasmuch as the board does not appoint them and cannot dismiss them from office, it cannot be responsible for their official conduct. The county government is conducted on the theory that the affairs of the county will be properly looked after if each officer does his duty as it is outlined in the state law. That is, the state legislature assumes to be the directing head of each county government. In assigning duties to officers the legislature in some cases gives detailed instructions; in


other cases it confers authority in general terms, leaving room for the exercise of a large measure of discretionary power. In the exercise of this discretionary power each elective officer is his own master and is responsible to no one. The carelessness, incompetency, and waste that too often characterize our county governments are in large measure due to this lack of responsibility.

71. A Possible Remedy. - What is needed is a responsible head to each county government. The recent amendment to the constitution permitting counties to adopt charters makes this reform possible. According to that amendment the supervisors are the only county officers that must be elected. With respect to other officers each charter must provide “ for the election or appointment of said officers, or any of them,” and also for their removal. The board of supervisors could thus be made the head of the county government, with power to appoint and supervise any or all other officers, and to dismiss promptly those who for any reason fail to render honest and efficient service. If the powers and responsibilities of the supervisors should be thus increased, their salaries also should be increased. Many of the shortcomings in our county governments at the present time, that are traceable to boards of supervisors, grow out of the fact that these officials are so poorly paid that they cannot give to the public service the time that it demands.

It would be unsafe to place so much power in the hands of the supervisors unless they could be made to feel their responsibility to the people at all times. To state the new theory of county government in general terms : if the elective officers of a county were reduced to a small num

1 Section 71, article XI.

ber, if all other officers were appointed by and made responsible to them, and if they were made to feel a constant responsibility to the people, it is believed that the county government would become both more efficient and more responsive to the wishes of the people. A county charter may provide that supervisors be elected by the county at large from supervisorial districts, or that one supervisor be elected by each district. It is believed that election at large would cause supervisors to be more readily influenced by public opinion than they have been in the past. But the exponents of the new theory of county government rely mainly on the recall to bring to the supervisors, and to all other elective officers, a sense of their responsibility to the people. 72. The Initiative and the Referendum. — Up to the

present time our county governments have been purely representative in character. That is, we have delegated all power to pass county ordinances to boards of county supervisors. But the legislature of 1911, which gave to the people of each county the power to recall their officers, gave them also the power to participate in passing ordinances 3

The initiative is the power on the part of the voters to pass ordinances. If a number of persons wish an ordinance passed, and the board of supervisors will not pass it, they may circulate among the voters a petition containing a full statement of the proposed ordinance. This petition is later filed with the county clerk, who must examine it within ten days; and if it does not contain a sufficient number of valid

1 Including always the supervisors and superior judges, and possibly the sheriff, district attorney, and one or two others.

2 See outlines of the Los Angeles and San Bernardino county charters, Appendix D. 3 Statutes of 1911, Extra Session, page 125.


signatures, the persons who filed it have ten days in which to secure additional signatures. The clerk again examines it, and if it is then found to be correct, he must present it to the board of supervisors. The board must either pass the ordinance or submit it to the voters at an election. If the petition is signed by voters equal in number to at least 20 per cent of the votes cast in the county for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election, the supervisors must call a special election to consider the ordinance in not less than thirty-five, nor more than forty days;' if the number of signatures is less than 20 per cent but more than 10 per cent, the supervisors must submit the ordinance to the voters at the next regular election. Before the election, sample ballots and copies of the ordinance must be mailed to each voter. Two statements of three hundred words each may be printed on the sample ballots, one by the persons proposing the ordinance, and the other by the supervisors showing why they object to it. Any number of ordinances may be submitted at the same election. An ordinance which has been adopted by the people cannot be amended or repealed without the consent of the people.

The referendum is the power on the part of the voters to vote directly on ordinances that have been passed by the supervisors. No ordinance passed by the supervisors goes into effect for thirty days, except ordinances that are required by state law, and urgent ordinances enacted for the preservation of the public peace and safety. If within the thirty days a petition protesting against the ordinance, and signed by the voters equal in number to 20 per cent of the votes cast in the county for all candidates for governor at the last election, is presented to the county clerk, the ordinance is suspended from going into effect; and if the supervisors do not repeal it, they must submit it to the voters at a special election, or at the next general election. If necessary an opportunity to secure additional signatures is given, as in the case of the initiative and the recall. Sample ballots must be sent out on which may be printed statements of not more than three hundred words each for and against the ordinance. If the ordinance is approved by the voters at the election, it goes into effect at once; otherwise it is repealed.

1 Unless there is to be a regular election within sixty days.

2 Such ordinances must be passed, and must be declared to be urgent, by a fourfifths vote of the supervisors.


1. What financial dealings does each county have with the state ?

2. How does a county pay interest on bonds ? What are interest coupons?

3. Under what conditions may a county be sued ?

4. If a county were to borrow money for some purpose not authorized by law and should spend the money, could the lender of the money compel the county to repay it ?

5. Under what conditions can one officer be held responsible for the official acts of another? Why is there no responsible head to the county government ?

6. What officers should be appointed ?

7. What kinds of ordinances cannot be repealed by the people through the referendum ? 8. It is specifically mentioned in the law that


ordinance granting a franchise may be repealed by the people. Why?

9. In the petitions for the initiative and the referendum why is the vote for candidates for the office of governor taken as a basis for the percentages ? What is the basis for the percentages in the case of recall petitions ?

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