The commission made recommendations in about fifty areas, meaning that the ballot facing the voters could contain more than fifty propositions. Many of the propositions will be inconsequential (changing spelling, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, etc.), but by the commission's own estimation, twelve of the changes are substantive, meaning they will have practical effect on the operation of government.
Unfortunately, while the commission explained *what* their recommended changes are, they didn't explain *why* the recommended changes are necessary. It's left to the voters to either put blind faith in the commission or attempt to divine the reasons behind the recommendations. I'm not inclined to the former, and I don't have the skill for the latter. Unless someone offers some compelling reasons otherwise, here are three changes that I'll oppose.
The following quotes are from a memo to the Mayor and City Council from the Charter Review Commission.
This isn't a "clarification" at all. In fact, it's a new restriction on the right of the public to address the city council.Article 3.10 -- Open Meetings -- Clarified that visitors may speak at all city council meetings except those that are authorized closed meetings, emergency meetings or council committee meetings.
Section 3.10 currently says, "All meetings of the city council and all committees thereof shall be open to the public except as otherwise permitted by state law, and the rules of the city council shall provide that citizens of the city shall have a reasonable opportunity to be heard at any such meetings, in regard to any matter there considered."
The changes eliminate the right of the public to speak at some city council meetings. I can't imagine what a compelling reason for this restriction might be. I'll be urging a "no" vote on this change.
I can understand the practical difficulties of scheduling a recall election late in a council term. The regular election can serve the purpose of a recall election. I'm fine with that.Article 5.04 -- Recall Limitations -- Added a section that "no recall petition shall be filed against the mayor or any council member within six (6) months after such person has qualified for office or within three (3) months after an election of such person’s recall, and in no case within three (3) months prior to the expiration of such person’s current term of office."
But why prohibit recalls in the first six months of a term? It's not hard to imagine news that reflects badly on a candidate coming to light after the filing deadline for an election. It's not hard to imagine such a candidate winning election because no one filed to run against him or her. It's not hard to imagine the electorate wanting that officeholder gone immediately, if not sooner. Why force the electorate to wait six months before recalling such an officeholder? Again, I can't imagine what a compelling reason for this restriction might be. I'll be urging a "no" vote on this change.
The mayor and council members serve two year terms. Why let one city council bind future city councils by entering into a contract with a city manager that could cover the next council's entire term (and even longer)? The city manager is appointed by the city council. Each and every city council should have the power to review the city manager and replace or reappoint as deserved. I'll be urging a "no" vote on this change.Article 6.01 -- Appointment of a City Manager -- Removed language that the city council may choose to enter into a contract with the city manager for a period not to exceed 2 years.
Two caveats. First, these are my initial reactions. Perhaps when members of the commission begin providing reasoning for their recommendations, I'll change my mind. Second, the commission estimated that there might be 50 such propositions on the ballot. I only reviewed the few they identified as substantive. I may have more to dislike after reviewing the rest of the changes.
Tomorrow: Three to Like.