The Charter Revision Commission has wrapped up what it considers Phase 1 of the process. The body, which has until July to finalize its work, has moved deliberately, but with the goal of getting things accomplished in a timely fashion. This week, its recommendations went to the city’s attorneys for review.
At the conclusion of last week’s meeting they formally handed off the commission’s recommendations to the city’s Corporation Counsel Office for legal review. While some of the commission’s proposals have already received some legal scrutiny, this was the official presentation before the next step.
“There is no specific time table for the legal vetting process, however the consensus was 30-40 days should do the trick,” said Commission Chairman Ed Granfield this week. “Upon conclusion of the vetting process, the commission will reconvene to review and tweak the document accordingly and schedule a public hearing, most likely in late April.”
Expectations are the commission will submit its report to the City Council in early May, who then have up to 60 days to review the report, hold its own hearings on the matter, and send it back to the commission with questions or concerns.
Once returned the commission will have 30 days to consider the City Council’s concerns. If all goes as expected, we can anticipate a final document could/should be agreed upon by both bodies sometime in mid-August.
“This commission of five Democrats and three Republicans has brought forth a bold and ambitious proposal for real change,” Granfield said. “And, we are united in support of these initiatives. By design, the commission has not adopted any of the suggested changes yet.”
Granfield said that with the possibility of the social media networks exploding with political rancor, the commission has determined it will put its proposals out for review before taking final action.
“In order to keep the political and social media rumor mill at bay, I decided to leave all proposals open, wait for legal opinion first, then tweak and/or adopt by a formal vote,” he said. “I’m not going to bring anything to the public until it has passed the legal smell test first! The report to the City Council will include comprehensive reforms and restructuring of our city never before seen, changes long overdue in the opinion of many.”
While the chairman would not divulge details of the commission’s ambitious agenda, It is known discussions have included restructuring the City Council and the office of the mayor, bringing in professional city management, increasing elected terms to four years, requiring credentials for all department heads, and empowering an independent ethics and compliance commission as some of the bigger topics.
“I suspect it will become a debate between supporters of the status quo versus advocates for real and absolute change,” said Granfield.
He said the changes in whole or part are meant to allow voters and taxpayers a real voice in what happens when choices at the ballot box may not be what is really needed or necessary.
“Traditionally, the voters in the community call for change every two years, but in fact rarely get what they ask for. The problems we struggle with are rooted deep within our current system of government,” Granfield said. “I don’t care who you elect, mayor, City Council, or Board of Education. When a large corporation is struggling, they restructure. This city has struggled for decades. It’s time the voters get the chance to consider doing the same.”