By Josh LaBella
A Jan. 3 Charter Revision Commission meeting highlighted several topics the group is reviewing.
Commission Chairman Ed Granfield said the commission was founded by the city council late last winter to review, research and recommend changes to the city charter. He said the commission was taking a chapter and verse approach to the process.
“At this point we have completed about 75 percent of our review and research, and held lengthy discussions and debated many potential changes,” said Granfield. “But to date nothing is set in stone. So much of the current language with this document is so outdated, that the effects of each suggested change have to be researched so as not to impair current city operations if enacted.”
The commission brought in Fred A. Messore, the city’s commissioner of planning and development, to ensure that the language of the charter was an accurate reflection of how the department was run. Messore said he was unsure if anything in the section of the charter laying out his department needed to be changed or added. He said he would like more staff but that did not fall under the purview of the commission.
Later in the meeting, commission member John Carrano handed out six pages which contain “the last dangling items” that they wanted to go through. He said the issues were all the areas they had not unanimously agreed on how to go about.
The topics included emergency bonding, mayoral line of succession and qualifications for city clerk. The commission also had a lengthy discussion about changes regarding the board of ethics and compliance. Carrano discussed the possibility of a proposal to add a segment into that section of the charter which would “give the board teeth.”
He said the commission would need a legal opinion on the matter but it was written to give the board a course of action if they recommend something to the city council and the council do not act on it. He read the section to the commission.
“Within 30 days of receiving the board’s recommendation the city council shall issue a response,” said Carrano. “Not withstanding or in the absence of the city councils required response, the board may obtain legal counsel on behalf of the electorate to formulate their recommendations on behalf of the city of West Haven.”
Carrano said the section was written because, as they have gone through the process of reviewing the charter, they have noticed “tons of violations” concerning charter compliance.
Ronald Quaqliani, chairman of the city council, also attended the meeting. He told the commission he knew they were taking a “deep dive” into the charter and appreciated their efforts.
“We’re excited to hear about your progress and we’re hoping that within the next several weeks we can officially hear what you’ve got on your mind,” said Quaqliani. “As we get closer to spring time I would imagine that your process would begin to wrap up with a public hearing and an official handoff to us [the city council] to begin our process to hopefully get it where it needs to be on the ballot for the next election.”
Granfield said a fundamental question for voters will be whether or not they are ready to support real, long-lasting, changes in how the city conducts its business or if the status quo will prevail. He said the commission will work until they feel they are completed.
“We will continue to do our due diligence. We won’t be forced into rushing this along. Nor will we be pushed into delaying this effort for any political advantage to one side or another,” said. “Trust me, when we are ready, everyone will know.”