A fight over the city controller's ability to determine the effectiveness of programs overseen by elected officials could end up in a courtroom if a proposed charter amendment doesn't clarify the issue, City Controller Laura Chick said. The proposed amendment is the result of a dispute between Chick and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Two months ago, Delgadillo sued Chick, asking the court to affirm his position that the city charter prevents the controller from conducting performance audits on programs overseen by elected officials. Delgadillo's office says such performance audits could become political ammunition, while Chick argues that taxpayers have a right to know how city money is spent, regardless of where the program is housed.
The proposed amendment would ask voters: "Shall the charter be amended to expand the authority of the city controller to conduct performance audits of programs administered by other elected city officials and to expand the authority of the city council and mayor to conduct performance audits of the city controller?"
An amendment introduced by Councilman Tony Cardenas would define a program as an activity, project, function or entity funded by city money or state or federal grants, and either established by an ordinance or transferred to an elected city office. Chick opposes that amendment, which she says complicates the issue.
"I have asked for the respect of being able to write the ballot argument against, if in fact they put language on there that muddies the water instead of clears it," Chick said.
"If they don't put a charter amendment on (the ballot) that I'm supporting, which is to clarify with the public, then I'm going back to court," she said. "It's not over."
Voters approved the city charter in 1999.