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Lakewood Charter Change: Issue 66

Proposal before voters would eliminate the 'quasi-judicial authority' granted to the mayor's office.

 approved a proposal in July that includes eight changes to the city's Second Amended Charter. 

Those  are now headed for the Nov. 8 ballot, where voters will decide whether they approve.

Issue 65 is a proposed amendment to clarify the language in the charter that includes allowing the city to perform any action covered under the state's constitution.

The question on the ballot: 

Shall Article II, Section 7, Mayor’s Investigation, of the Second Amended Charter of the City of Lakewood be amended to eliminate the quasi-judicial authority granted to the Mayor to compel witnesses, compel production of evidence and make findings of contempt?

The charter currently reads:

The Mayor may, without notice, cause the affairs of any department or the conduct of any officer or employee to be examined. The Mayor or any person or persons appointed by the Mayor to examine the affairs of any department or the conduct of any officer or employee, shall have the same power to compel the attendance of witnesses, and the production of books and papers and other evidence and to cause witnesses to be punished for contempt through appropriate judicial proceedings, as is conferred upon the Council or a committee thereof by this Charter or by law.

The charter would read:

The Mayor may, without notice, cause the affairs of any department or the conduct of any officer or employee to be examined. The Mayor or any person or persons appointed by the Mayor may examine the affairs of any department or the conduct of any officer or employee.

Comment from Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler: 

Article II, Section 7 appears to be unusual and strangely archaic. It specifically authorizes the mayor to conduct investigations of employees, which would not change, but permits him or her do so in a way that appears to give him or her quasi-judicial authority — that is, the ability to compel attendance, compel the production of documents and punish those who fail to appear with contempt orders — which authority ordinarily remains entirely within the province of the judiciary and not the executive.

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