ORDINANCE NO._______________

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, COUNTY OF SAN MATEO,

STATE OF CALIFORNIA

 

AN ORDINANCE ADDING CHAPTER 2.04 TO TITLE 2 OF THE SAN MATEO COUNTY ORDINANCE CODE RELATING TO THE CREATION OF AN INDEPENDENT CITIZENS REVIEW PANEL TO REVIEW ALLEGATIONS OF SERIOUS OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT ON THE PART OF AN ELECTED COUNTY OFFICAL

 

The Board of Supervisors of the County of San Mateo, State of California, ORDAINS as follows:

 

SECTION 1. Chapter 2.04, comprising of sections 2.04.010 through 2.04.070, is hereby added to Title 2 of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code to read as follows:

 

Chapter 2.04 Oversight of Official Conduct of County Elected Officials

 

2.04.010 Purpose.

The County of San Mateo has a paramount interest in protecting the integrity of its governmental institutions, and to ensure that County government serves the best interests of the citizens of San Mateo County. Government Code 25303 provides that the Board of Supervisors shall supervise the official conduct of all county officers, including elected officials, and additionally provides that the Board shall see that county officers faithfully perform their duties.

 

County elected officials are elected by the people of San Mateo County, and are accountable in the first instance to the people. Nevertheless, the Board’s obligation to oversee the official conduct of elected county officials may, in the case of well-founded allegations of serious official misconduct, require that the Board take action in response to such allegations. In carrying out its oversight responsibilities, the Board must be mindful that it does not interfere with the constitutional or statutory responsibilities invested in the County’s elected officials.

 

To further the Board’s interest in protecting the integrity of its governmental institutions and to ensure that County government serves the best interest of its citizens, this Chapter will set forth a process to guide the Board, as well as other County elected officials, when investigating allegations of serious misconduct of County elected officials. This process shall be in addition to any other authority the Board of Supervisors may have to carry out its supervisory responsibilities under Government Code 25303.

 
 

2.04.020 Definition and Description Of Serious Official Misconduct.

(1)

For purposes of this Chapter, “serious official misconduct” shall include:

 

(a)

Flagrant or repeated neglect of duties;

 

(b)

Misappropriation of public property;

 

(c)

Violation of any law related to the performance of the elected official’s duties as set forth by federal law, state statute, ordinance, regulation or the San Mateo County Charter;

 

(d)

Willful falsification of a relevant official statement or document.

(2)

To assist in determining whether an elected official has engaged in serious official misconduct for purposes of this Chapter, consideration may be given to the various internal rules of conduct relating to the conduct of County employees, such as the County’s Civil Service Rules, or other such similar departmental and administrative practices and procedures, except that any such rule which by its terms cannot be applied to the conduct of an elected official cannot serve as guidance in determining whether the elected official has engaged in serious official misconduct.

 

2.04.030 Determination that An Independent Citizens Review Panel Should be Appointed.

Any Board member may refer to the Board an allegation or allegations of misconduct by an elected County official. The Board may choose, in its discretion, to take no action with respect to the allegation, refer the allegation to the elected official for a response, or refer it to another agency if it appears that such other agency may have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the allegation. If the Board, in considering the allegation or allegations, makes a determination that the allegation on its face meets the prima facie definition of serious official misconduct, and further that the allegations appear to be well founded, the Board of Supervisors may appoint an Independent Citizens Review Panel pursuant to the provisions of this Chapter.

 

2.04.040 Appointment and Membership of Independent Citizens Review Panel.

(a)

The Board of Supervisors may appoint a five member Independent Citizens Review Panel, with the option of appointing either a three member or seven member panel, if deemed appropriate at the time of appointment. A majority of the panel members shall constitute a quorum.

(b)

Panel members shall be chosen at random from a list compiled and maintained by the County Counsel of citizens from among the following categories: retired judges; former county or city administrators; former grand jury forepersons; and former county counsels, city attorneys and/or district attorneys.

(c)

Less than a quorum of the panel may be members chosen from the categories listed in subsection (b) who reside in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara. A quorum of members must reside in the County of San Mateo.

(d)

At its initial meeting, the panel shall select one of its members to be the Chair.

 

2.04.050 Duties and Authority of Citizens Review Panel.

(a)

Upon referral by the Board under section 2.040.030, the Independent Citizens Review Panel shall plan and conduct an appropriate investigation of those allegations of serious misconduct by an elected County officer, and report back to the Board with written findings and recommendations concerning action to be taken.

(b)

In carrying out its responsibilities, the Independent Citizens Review Panel shall not interfere with the constitutionally and statutorily designated investigative and prosecutorial functions of the District Attorney or Sheriff, nor shall it interfere with the constitutional or statutorily designated responsibilities of any other County elected official.

(c)

The recommendations of the Independent Citizens Review Panel to the Board of Supervisors shall be limited to the following: a vote of censure or “no confidence”; referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency; and/or referral to a civil grand jury for its determination of whether removal from office is warranted under existing law.

(d)

The Board can accept, modify or reject the recommendations of the Independent Citizens Review Panel. The Board retains responsibility for taking final action on the recommendations.

(e)

The manner and scope of the investigation shall be determined by the panel consistent with the directions given by the Board.

(f)

Open meeting requirements of the Brown Act shall apply to the Independent Citizens Review Panel. In the conduct of its investigation, the Independent Citizens Review Panel shall, to the extent authorized by law, protect the privacy interests of both the elected official being investigated and any other persons who are involved in any way in the investigation, consistent with the need to complete a thorough investigation. The Chair of the panel shall consult regularly with County Counsel for guidance in the determination of whether specific information which may implicate privacy concerns may be protected from public disclosure.

(g)

Requirements of, and exemptions contained in, the California Public Records Act shall apply to documents generated and considered by the panel. A determination shall be made by the Chair, in consultation with County Counsel, as to whether, upon the facts of a particular case, the public interest is served by not disclosing any and all documents clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of such documents.

(h)

Investigations conducted by the Independent Citizens Review Panel shall be conducted with the degree of formality appropriate to the subject matter of the investigation. Every effort should be made to obtain documents, witness statements, or oral testimony on a voluntary basis. The Chair of the panel shall have subpoena power to call witnesses and to obtain documents for the panel if necessary. The Chair of the panel is authorized to retain investigative and other expert assistance to the panel as deemed necessary.

(i)

County Counsel shall provide assistance to the panel as requested by the Chair.

 

2.04.060 Coordination with Law Enforcement Investigation.

If, in the course of the Board’s consideration as to whether to pursue allegations of official misconduct on the part of an elected official, or in the course of the Independent Citizens Review Panel investigation, it becomes apparent that there is an ongoing criminal investigation, or that the allegations may support a criminal investigation, such consideration by the Board or investigation by the Independent Citizens Review Panel shall be suspended and County Counsel shall immediately consult with the appropriate criminal investigative authority to determine whether further action by the Board or Panel may compromise the criminal investigation.

 

2.04.070 Sections found invalid.

If any provision, clause, section, sentence or paragraph of this Chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances shall be held invalid, such validity shall not affect the other provisions of this ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are declared to be severable.

 

SECTION 2. This Ordinance shall be effective thirty (30) days from the passage date thereof.

 

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