After 30 years of Mubarak, Egypt to limit terms

After 30 years of Mubarak, Egypt to limit terms.

EVEN EGYPT SEE THE VALUE IN LIMITING TERMS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS!

CAIRO — Future presidents of Egypt will only be allowed to stay in office for eight years according to constitutional amendments that will open up competition for the position held for three decades by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.

The proposed amendments outlined on Saturday by a judicial committee appointed by Egypt’s ruling military council will be put to a referendum ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections that will hand power back to a civilian government.

Mubarak was serving in his fifth, six-year term when he was toppled on Feb. 11, forced from office by a mass uprising driven in large part by demands for reform to put an end to the one-man rule that has defined Egyptian government for decades.

By capping the number of terms a leader can serve, Egypt will be offering an example to other Arab states ruled for decades by autocrats. They include Tunisia, whose president was toppled last month, and Libya, whose leader now faces a revolt.

The existing constitution, suspended by the military council to which Mubarak handed power, made it almost impossible for an opposition candidate to mount a challenge to his ruling National Democratic Party.

Saturday’s announcement is a milestone along Egypt’s road towards the elections which the military council says it hopes to hold within six months and which Egyptians hope will usher in a new era of democracy.

“When the president knows that the period is a maximum of eight years, his despotism will be reduced or eliminated completely,” said Mohamed el-Katatni, a spokesman for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Under the amendments, the elections will be subject to judicial supervision, said retired judge Tariq al-Bishri, the head of the committee. He outlined terms for candidacy which are much looser than current requirements.

The military council has indicated the proposals will be open to public debate, after which more changes can be made.

The many critics of Egypt’s constitution say the country still needs an entirely new one. Even after the amendments, the document is riddled with contradictions and still bestows too much power on the president, among other flaws, they say.

Bishri said a new constitution would be drawn up after elections. The judicial committee had faced calls to propose changes that would allow quick formation of political parties – something which is highly restricted under existing laws.

ARMY SAYS SORRY TO PROTESTERS

The failure to do so means it is now up to the military council to make changes that will let people form parties in the run-up to the elections, said Mustapha Kamal al-Sayyid, a political scientist.

“It’s really important to accelerate the establishment of political parties so we have clear alternatives,” he said.

The proposed amendments will also make it complicated for a president to maintain the state of emergency – in place for decades – which opposition activists want lifted as part of their broad demands for reform.

Pressing their demands, thousands of protesters gathered on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the hub of the uprising against Mubarak. They were calling for a complete overhaul of the government, still headed by a prime minister Mubarak appointed.

In the early hours of the morning, the military broke up the remnants of the protest by force, using sticks and tasers, protesters said, in the toughest moves yet by the army against the demonstrators.

The military council apologised, said there had been no order to assault the protesters, and called the incident unintentional. Twenty-seven protesters detained overnight were released, the army said, blaming the incident on “infiltrators” it said had thrown bottles and rocks at soldiers.

As day broke, a few dozen protesters left in the square flagged down motorists, telling them that the army had attacked the protest. A number of the activists held aloft signs declaring “the army betrayed the people”.

One taxi driver remonstrated with a protester, telling him: “The people can’t find food to eat.” His view reflected the feelings of those Egyptians who believe continued protests are obstructing a return to normality.

Initiative getting costly – Loomis News –

Initiative getting costly – Loomis News.

Measure A, the term limits initiative, continues to be a controversial and costly issue for the Town of Loomis.

Voters approved the term limits initiative on Nov. 2 and also re-elected multi-term councilmen Walt Scherer and Miguel Ucovich.

Perry Beck, town manager, announced at the Feb. 11 council meeting that the town has spent more than $26,000 on special outside legal counsel, of which $20,000 was for term limit expenses. He said an additional $10,000 will be needed to cover term limits legal expenses.

Earlier, during a public workshop held Feb. 4, the Loomis Town Council voted to send a letter to the state attorney general to seek a speedy resolution as to the legality of Measure A, instead of filing a quo warranto lawsuit.

The letter will utilize two briefs already prepared by outside legal counsel on the pros and cons of the retroactive issue. Only the pro side of the legal argument has been reviewed by the public. The con side had not been completed at the time of the meetings, said Dave Larsen, town attorney.

“We discovered in a quo warranto that we’re suing ourselves and we’re making Perry (Beck) swear to things we’re not sure he believes,” said councilman Gary Liss, when he explained why the council was not comfortable with the quo warranto process.

According to Larsen, at issue is a clause in the term limits measure, passed by voters in November, containing two retroactive statements. One is that the initiative takes effect on a retroactive date and the other that prior terms of current council members are counted.

Larsen said state law says that term limits may only be applied “prospectively” — or in the future — and past terms served cannot be counted and the issue should be decided by a “third party neutral.”

During the Feb. 11 meeting, Beck shared a letter received from Sonja Cupler, a Measure A proponent. Cupler petitioned the council to require councilmen Walt Scherer and Miguel Ucovich “to abstain from making motions, voting on any and all issues pertaining to the town, and from making any appointments” until the term limits issue is legally resolved.

Dave Larsen, town attorney, advised council against agreeing to “some type of blanket abstention.”

Larsen said he would continue to advise councilmembers “if I believe you have a conflict of interest.”

Bill Branch, a No On Measure A committee member, called Cupler’s letter “absurd” and “vindictive,” and called the term limits initiative “nothing more than a nasty vendetta because they couldn’t defeat these people at the polls.”

Branch said the proponents of Measure A “are tearing this town apart just to get rid of the two people they don’t like.” He said the “good people of Loomis” would not have supported the term limits initiative if they had known that.

Former councilman Tom Millward, one of the originators of the term limits initiative, told the council, “To spend $20,000 and all this mess going on – I don’t see why we have to do all this. These guys got elected. They should serve. Measure A was passed. It should be the law.”

Scherer said, “We are going to have term limits in Loomis, but we’re also going to have to be sure every law is legal. We won’t be implementing laws with illegal clauses in them. That is not how government should operate.”

Vice Mayor Sandra Calvert said, “Term limits is what the voters want. I am willing to uphold what the voters want.”

Council agreed that they would like to review the letter that will go to the attorney general when it is completed. Beck said it could take at least two weeks for a letter to be finished.

Town turns to attorney general to resolve term limits – Loomis News – 2/10/11

Town turns to attorney general to resolve term limits – Loomis News.

The Loomis Town Council has voted to send a letter to the state attorney general to seek a speedy resolution as to the legality of Measure A.

During a public workshop held on Feb. 4 to determine how council should proceed, Perry Beck, town manager, said the town has already spent approximately $25,000 in legal fees to produce two briefs arguing both sides of the term limit issue.

“We’re in a mess. I’d like to see this end soon. This can be very divisive for the town,” said Greg Obranovich, former planning commissioner.

According to Dave Larsen, town attorney, at issue is a clause in the term limits measure, passed by voters in November, containing two retroactive statements. One is that the initiative takes effect on a retroactive date and the other that prior terms of current council members are counted.

Larsen said state law says that term limits may only be applied “prospectively” — or in the future — and past terms served cannot be counted and the issue should be decided by a “third party neutral.”

Voters approved the term limits initiative on Nov. 2 and also re-elected multi-term councilmen Walt Scherer and Miguel Ucovich.

The briefs were produced after the council decided in December to file a quo warranto lawsuit with the state attorney general in an attempt to clarify the legality of the retroactive clause.

Larsen said those briefs will now be used to draft a letter presenting both sides of the argument that will be sent to Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“We discovered in a quo warranto that we’re suing ourselves and we’re making Perry (Beck) swear to things we’re not sure he believes,” said Councilman Gary Liss, when he explained why the council was rethinking the quo warranto process.

“No council members have said they want to overturn Measure A,” Beck said.

Scherer said, “Term limits are the law of the land. We’re trying to figure out how to implement them legally. We’re not playing any games.”

Randy Elder, of Loomis, accused the council of “creating smoke screens” to keep themselves in office.

“The intent of the voters was not to have Walt and Miguel in office. You need to uphold that. Let the attorney general decide,” Elder said.

Bob Rhodes, of Loomis, suggested that Ucovich and Scherer resign.

Irene Smith, also of Loomis, said the voters re-elected the men and those voters’ rights need to be protected.

Planning Commissioner Janet Thew said, “My rights need to be respected. I voted for Walt and Miguel. They won legitimately,” Thew said.

Councilwoman Sandra Calvert called the situation “very perplexing” and suggested the parties come together to draft a legal form of term limits and put it on the ballot in the next election. After discussion of that option, it was determined that it would be too far in the future before that might happen.

Beck said staff members at the attorney general’s office stated it should take two to three months to receive a response from the attorney general once a letter is received.

He expects it will take at least two more weeks for outside legal counsel to draft a letter and may cost up to $10,000 more in attorney fees.

Special meeting on Measure A set for Friday – Loomis News – 2/3/11

Special meeting on Measure A set for Friday – Loomis News.

The process of putting term limits into effect continues when the Loomis Town Council holds a workshop and special meeting at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, at the Loomis Depot.

A closed session has also been scheduled to confer with legal counsel if needed.

According to town attorney Dave Larsen, Measure A, the term limits initiative, was approved by voters last November, and contains two retroactive legal issues in one phrase. The phrase is “a member who has served more than two terms prior to August 1, 2010 must sit out eight years.”

One issue is the retroactive start date of Aug. 1; the other is that the measure counts a council member’s prior terms served. The retroactive phrase in Measure A would apply to councilmen Miguel Ucovich and Walt Scherer. Both councilmen have served more than two terms and both were re-elected to the council on Nov. 2.

Larsen said it is illegal to make laws that apply to an elected official’s previous terms, but said “a third-party, neutral” will need to clarify the measure’s legality.

During a special meeting on Dec. 7, the town council directed staff to file a quo warranto lawsuit with the state attorney general’s office once the new council was seated. Ucovich and Scherer recused them-selves from the vote.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, council also voted to certify the election. Scherer and Ucovich began their new terms on Dec. 14 when they were seated on the council, along with newly elected councilwoman Sandra Calvert.

Larsen said the town could take the case directly to the Superior Court or could take it to the state Attor-ney General Kamala Harris. The attorney general could then determine if the measure would be thrown out in its entirety, if a portion could be removed or if the case could continue to Superior Court. The law-suit sent to the attorney general would seek to remove Ucovich and Scherer from office if the retroactive portions of Measure A are found to be legal, Larsen said.

If the Attorney General withholds permission to file, because the retroactive portions of Measure A are illegal, Larsen said it is likely that she will not give permission to file the lawsuit and Ucovich and Scherer will remain seated.

In a report to the town council prepared in advance of the Feb. 4 meeting, town manager Perry Beck said the quo warranto complaint documents are ready to file with the state attorney general. During Friday’s workshop and meeting, public comment will be taken on whether to proceed with the quo warranto action or seek alternative methods of implementing Measure A and determining its legality.

Measure A heads to attorney general – Loomis News – 12/16/10

Measure A heads to attorney general – Loomis News.

The retroactive issues of Measure A, the Loomis term limits initiative passed by voters in November, is going to the state Attorney General.

“At least in a manner of speaking,” said town attorney Dave Larsen.

According to Larsen, the term limits initiative contains two retroactive legal issues in one phrase: “a member who has served more than two terms prior to August 1, 2010 must sit out eight years.”

One issue is the retroactive start date of Aug. 1; the other is that the measure counts a council member’s prior terms served.

Larsen said it is illegal to make laws that apply to an elected official’s previous terms, but said “a third-party, neutral” will need to clarify the measure’s legality.

According to section 36502 (b) of the California code, “Any proposal to limit the number of terms a member of the city council may serve on the city council, or the number of terms an elected mayor may serve, shall apply prospectively only.”

The dictionary definition of “prospective” is “of or in the future.”

The Loomis Town Council, with council members Miguel Ucovich and Walt Scherer recused, directed staff at a special meeting on Dec. 7 to file a quo warranto lawsuit with the state Attorney General’s office once the new council is seated.

According to Larsen, the town did this in order to implement Measure A without violating the law.

Ucovich and Scherer were re-elected to the council on Nov. 2, but the retroactive phrase in Measure A would apply to them.

Larsen said the lawsuit in the Superior Court can only be filed with the permission of Kamala Harris, the newly elected state Attorney General.

“If permission is obtained, the lawsuit will seek to remove Ucovich and Scherer from office if the retroactive portions of Measure A are found to be legal,” Larsen said.

Larsen said, if the Attorney General withholds permission to file because the retroactive portions of Measure A are illegal, it is likely that she will not give permission to file the lawsuit and Ucovich and Scherer will remain seated.

On Dec. 7, councilmembers Rhonda Morillas and Russ Kelley and Mayor Gary Liss voted to certify the election and seat Ucovich and Scherer and new council member Sandra Calvert at the regularly scheduled Dec. 14 meeting.

The council also said a public workshop or meeting would be held in the near future to allow public participation.

Larsen said the Attorney General can withhold permission to file the lawsuit because it lacks merit, or recommend it to go before a judge.

During the Dec. 7 meeting, council held a closed session, attended by Liss, Kelley and Morillas, to conduct a conference call with legal counsel on anticipated litigation.

Larsen later said a call was held with Sacramento attorney Rich Miadich, of the Olson, Hagel and Fishburn law firm.

During the meeting, Sonja Cupler, a Measure A proponent, called the situation a “huge, huge mess” and said she was disappointed in the way the majority of the council was handling it.

Liss asked Cupler, during the meeting, if she objected to seating the incumbents.

“No, because it doesn’t sound like this will be resolved anytime soon and you still need people on the council to represent the town,” Cupler said.

Measure A debate continues – Loomis News – 12/16/10

Measure A debate continues – Loomis News.

There is a lot of finger pointing going on in the legal mess of Loomis’ term limits initiative.

In November, Loomis voters passed a term limits initiative containing a clause with two retroactive issues and re-elected two incumbents.

The term limits measure is now being sent to the state Attorney General to determine if the town should implement the initiative and unseat the re-elected incumbents who were slated to be seated on the new council on Dec. 14.

In an e-mail sent to the Loomis News, Sonja Cupler, Term Limits For Loomis committee member, called the situation “unfortunate.”

“Loomis Town Council has decided to handle the victory of Measure A (Term Limits) … with closed door meetings with limited public input; changing their legal decisions because of taking on a secondary attorney; and promising to have public workshops after Council is seated,” Cupler wrote. “Many citizens are very seriously considering a recall of the Council.”

During a special council meeting on Dec. 7, Rhonda Morillas, councilmember, said to Cupler and Tom Millward, also a term limits committee member, “You put this on the ballot … There’s a problem with the way you wrote this.”

During the meeting, Cupler said the Term Limits For Loomis committee never got an attorney’s opinion on the wording or the legality of the measure.

“We’re just citizens doing what we think people in this town want,” Cupler said.

Dave Larsen, Loomis town attorney, said of Measure A, “This was a citizens’ initiative, not the town’s. It wasn’t done correctly.”

Larsen said the council kept the original wording intact and only moved it from the June special election to the November ballot because more voters participate in general elections.

“The idea that there was a conspiracy to move this from June to November to avoid the retroactive application, or to make it illegal when it might have been legal, is really a stretch,” Larsen said.

“I had no business correcting it. It’s not allowed,” Larsen said.

Larsen said in a later interview that if he had stepped in to examine the legality of the measure he could have been accused of malpractice.

Kieran Anderson, of Loomis, said he believes term limits are a good thing, but should start after the re-elected council members serve two more terms.

“The people have spoken. They re-elected these people,” Anderson said.

Kathy Schilling, of Loomis, said she voted for term limits.

“That doesn’t make sense that they (voters) voted for term limits and re-elected them (the incumbents). Legally, I think they have to seat them,” Schilling said.

“We need to abide by the laws on the books. You can’t just go willy-nilly and make up things as you go. Change the first law that says term limits must be prospective,” Schilling said.

Kitty Sommer, of Loomis, said, “They shouldn’t be sworn in until after the attorney general decides what is correct and legal.”

Rich McCormac, of Loomis, said the town needs to proceed with the legal challenge on the retroactivity.

“Otherwise, you have a three-member council,” McCormac said.

Measure A is being defied – Loomis News – 12/2/10

Measure A is being defied – Loomis News.

The majority of the voters voted for Measure A to limit the time a councilperson could serve at one time.

Walt Scherer knew Measure A would pass, that why his team consisting of three other councilmember and the town attorney did everything possible to be able to defy the will of people when it did pass. Scherer’s council put it on the November 2 ballot supposedly to save the town money and to have a larger voter turn out. Now that it passed, they are taking it to court, spending taxpayer money and using the town attorney. This was their plan from the beginning.

Scherer and Miguel Ucovich won the election because a lot of people that voted against Measure A voted for them. The majority of the voters want term limits.

The voters are tired of the council representing themselves and their own special interest and ignoring them. The voters are fed up with this council and a lot of them are seriously thinking of a recall of those councilmembers involved with fighting Measure A at the expense of the town just for their own benefit.

They feel a recall would be cheaper than the court costs.

Gary Sypnicki, Loomis