Acting on its own resolution and fulfilling a desire of many inside and outside the halls of city government, the City Council approved a nine-member Charter Revision Commission at its March 12 meeting. The nine-member panel will take up the task of review and revision of the city’s operating document over the next 18 months, with a report due in July of 2019.
At the March 12 session, the council approved a 5-4 split of party affiliation between Democrats and Republicans, with the ruling party taking the majority. Those approved were: Democrats – John Brunetti, Monique Bolt, Iris Diaz, John Carrano and Rohan Smith; Republicans – David Riccio, Edward Granfield, Victoria Clifford and Silvana Appicella.
As with many things over the last month, weather played a role in the organizational first meeting of the group. City Council Chairman Ronald Quagliani (D-at-large) said the group must still set up a meeting.
“The Charter Revision Commission organizational meeting was postponed last Wednesday due to inclement weather and I am not aware that the mayor has scheduled a new date as of now,” he said. “The chairman will be chosen at the organizational meeting.
Who will chair the commission has been a topic among the city’s political talking heads. Among the major contenders are Democrat John Carrano and Republican Edward Granfield. Granfield is being supported for chairman even by some Democrats. That would be a major story in a city that historically looks to party affiliation as a qualifier.
Under its resolution, the council did not make any specific recommendations as to what it would like to see included in charter revision. Both Quagliani and Mayor Nancy Rossi have indicated changes in the way the budget-making process and review by the council would be a preference of theirs.
Quagliani also has mentioned term lengths for the mayor being increased from two years to four. Some other suggestions include term limits on both the mayor and council.
Qugliani said Mayor Rossi is expected to present some of her suggestions at the rescheduled organizational meeting, while he and other members might submit suggestions during the process.
“I believe the mayor will address the CRC at their organizational meeting with her recommendations. There have been no official City Council recommendations. I will submit verbal and written comments to the CRC at their public hearing and I anticipate other City Council members to do the same,” he said.
Quagliani said no timetable has been set up by the council, but he expects the commission will set its own schedule and suggested timetable as it begins its work.
Quagliani is aware that previous attempts at charter revision have been criticized for lack of public input, and charged with having “hidden agendas.” He is hopeful the new commission keeps the public informed.
“I will recommend to the CRC that additional opportunities for public comment be made available throughout the process over and above the initial public hearing that must take place prior to the CRC engaging in any substantial business,” he said.