The head of the city’s Charter Revision Commission is trying head off reports concerning the work of the committee and the proposals that are expected in its July report. Chairman Edward Grafield has been fighting off the city’s rumor mill for weeks since his committee starting drafting and has now sent for vetting its possible proposals to go the voters in November.
Granfield is frustrated because he believes some city politicians are trying to get ahead of the report, and prejudicing the proposals in the court of public opinion.
“I feel prompted to at least attempt to squash the rumor mill which keeps heating up,” Granfield wrote to the Voice this week. “ As the chairman, I am compelled to remind my fellow citizens that the Charter Revision effort continues to be a ‘work in progress.’”
He said he understands that political passions might get in the way, but stated bluntly anyone who thinks they know where the process is or what is going to result “has no idea what they are talking about.”
Granfield said four factors are currently in play, and any talk of what the committee is going to report is premature:
“1) We have not concluded our work; 2) We have not formally voted on any of the possible changes under consideration; 3) We have not drafted our formal report; 4) The legal review has not been completed,” he said.
He said elected officials have had very few visits to the committee over the months of its work with the exception of City Council Chairman Ronald Quagliani and the council’s majority leader. City Clerk Deborah Collins and Public Works Director Louis Esposito have also visited.
“The mayor has been in touch but kept her distance, allowing us to do our work and that’s it ! I cannot compel anyone to contribute, but the door has always been open,” he said
He said he has asked members of the Municipal Accountability Review Board to attend meetings and offer suggestions, but those invitations have gone unanswered.
“If MARB truly believes there is need for significant structural changes in how this city operates, then please by all means let us know what they recommend so we can take a look and act on those changes accordingly,” Granfield said.
Social media has been a problem, and said if any resident gets a post saying the author has first-hand knowledge of what is going on, or if there is someone talking at a local watering hole, that information should not be trusted.
“Unless they are members of the commission, respond by asking them if they are attending our meetings or speaking with the leadership, before accepting anything they may say about our efforts,”Granfield warned.
One recurrent report is the committee looking to revamp city staffing. Granfield said the commission has very limited paths along those lines.
“The Charter Revision commission has no authority over city jobs, we can make recommendations about our city organizational chart, but not individuals positions or labor groups, everyone needs to calm down about that possibility,” he said.
He said the commission has looked at making certain upper echelon jobs dependent on educational credentials, but any changes would be through attrition if accepted by the voters.
“The concept of adding credentials to all department heads does not affect our current leadership, it could/would affect future department leaders. I can say that as things stand at the moment, only two city positions out of 1200 will be directly affected by our suggested changes, changes paid for thru adjustments elsewhere. That means a zero cost increase.
He had one final thought for the city’s political class.
“In the meantime if any of our community leaders are in fact interested in knowing first-hand what’s happening, instead of speculating and fueling the rumor mill with political BS, try this, reach out to me,” he said.
At press time city lawyers were expected to attend tonight’s meeting and give an update on where they are in vetting the raw proposals given them by the commission.
“When the lawyers are done, we will reconvene and go over their efforts, make the appropriate legal changes, schedule a public hearing, then hand off a report to the City Council so they can begin their deliberations on the matter,” Granfield said. “In the end it will be a matter of bringing about real comprehensive change to this city or protecting the status quo, a question, in my opinion, only the people should be deciding, not the city politicos.”