Charter Commission Meeting
Wednesday January 11, 2016
Attending: Josh Krintzman (Chair), Jane Frantz, Howard Haywood, Anne Larner, Brooke Lipsitt, Karen Manning, Chris Steele
Tardy: Bryan Barash (arrived 7:36), Rhanna Kidwell (arrived 7:39)
Approval of Minutes: From December 14th, passed unanimously with minor modifications.
Sally Lipshutz: relief to see Paragraph M in the draft, which allows the area councils to exist. Boundaries: advise to allow the area councils to operate as have been operating in terms of expansion as long as there is no overriding new legislation. No changes to elections: nothing in the charter about elections. Have been working with the City Clerk to have elections during the municipal election unless City Council changes that. Creation of new area councils: exhort the CC to allow them to have new councils if so desired, required 20% of the residents of an area. Why make them wait for 2 years? Deadline: come up with a timeline for City Council tot follow or else be pushed “into forever.” Funding: old charter excluded it—exhort the CC to please allow Area Council to get funding if the City Council voted ot give it to them.
Nathanial Lichten: Paragraph M: current area council don’t operate under ordinances right now. Questions of equity—ensuring that new councils can be formed—creating waiting period goes against that. Proposals to create new area councils might encourage City Council to move quickly. Thinks should be able to get funding—City Council still needs to approve it and Mayor needs to propose it.
Article 11, Section 2b: provision on attempting to influence city officials. Ask that remove that—members volunteer time to the city; this would restrict them from attempting to suggest anything new to the City or staff member unless it is a current matter in front of the city. Prevent them from bringing suggestions or even from using the 311 app. Prevents them from participating fully.
[Karen: letter said that important to Area Council to keep the same except for funding. The vote today is about whether to reference in the transition. Nathanial: restrictions still in there.]
Article 12: Transition Provisions: Brooke: codification of decisions made in last meeting when went through this article by paragraph. The charter would take effect upon adoption, but some things won’t work on Day 1 and those are spelled out in Section 7. Two things to discuss:
- In subsection J, funding for legal counsel for City Council: Marilyn expressed some concern about the starting date, so propose adding a few words add [in the FY19 budget] after “city council.”
- Section 12-6b: waiting to get info about state.
- Section 12-6m: no recommendation, but this is keeping things as they are now.
- KM: Chris, Jane and Karen agreed on those points. Question as to whether things should continue to exist in terms of boundaries—can be labor intensive to add or reduce the area, involves city council, elections department, etc. hear the arguments for keeping them as is until the new charter goes into effect. Is in the Charter Commission’s power to stop the expansion temporarily.
- CS: set a deadline for the city council to act, or else they can create a de facto veto of area councils.
- KM: agree that elections would continue to be run as they are? As in the regular city election of 2015.
- BL: has been a skeptic about area councils and city council’s willingness to take this up. Believes that the pressure from existing or wanna-be area councils. If an area council needs/wants to make changes, that alone would put pressure to make things happen. Right now, there will be a lot of changes that the City Council will need to make—so any deadline would have to be very far off. By making the system responsive to demand, might get the city council to take timely action.
- JF: City Council would have the option to say no.
- BL: Have the authority to do that now. Can have an ordinance and still take no action. Not required to approve a change to an existing area council or adopt a new one.
- JF: this situation is much more open-ended. The City Council may not take action on the boundaries or creation of new area councils.
- CS: also by Brooke’s logics, some councils in the pipeline might also be stopped. Could have straight deadline, extend current provisions, or put a deadline in place if an application is submitted or other options. Waiting for council to act without an “or else” could push this to the bottom of the pile.
- KM: trying to be sensitive to the changes; maybe let things settle in a bit and keep status quo—meant with the best of intentions.
- AL: prefer a solution that is straightforward and not playing to the dark side. Agreed mostly with Chris—either want to support them or not. To set up something that is a lose-lose situation that lets things hang isn’t transparent.
- JK: feels like the trouble is that have asked the City Council to come up with the solution.
- BL: but don’t have that in any of the other transition parts either. It’s not good to add that things will go back to the way things were. If put a deadline on, should be a long one. Don’t put an “or else”—haven’t done that anywhere else.
- AL: don’t tie the hands of the City Council—should be able to act under the old rules until the new ones are set up.
- Discussion about whether the area councils operate under their own resolutions or Article 9. This won’t be a priority for the City Council. How important is it for new area councils to be formed? Could it wait until the City Council develops an ordinance? The old Article 9 won’t be in effect. Council has the right to accept or not accept a petition—why not just leave it the Council? Can’t it be left open so that the City Council could determine if it’s beneficial to set up ordinance or to wait? Are we getting into the weeds? Shouldn’t it be up to the City Council? Can’t have two article 9 to choose from…need to specify in the transition documents which will be in effect.
- Why the assumption that the City Council won’t act? If there is pressure, they will act in some way. How much pressure does the CC put on the City Council to draft an ordinance? Is there a deadline? Does that increase the likelihood of it getting it done? BL: would be done if there is a need, don’t need a deadline. Would leave it out of the transition section and let them deal with it when it is timely. Looking for solutions to a non-problem.
- Discussion clarifying what would happen if that statement is not in the transition document—what changes can be made/asked for? What does M do? Right now, it’s a placeholder—do we want to put a deadline on the City Council?
- BL: motion that do no reference area councils in transition document—omit any reference in Article 9 in Article 12, except first sentence. No second.
- BL: new motion that say that the City Council will develop the appropriate ordinances to support Article 9 by Jan 1, 2020 (giving them two years). Rhanna seconded. Discussion: can do it sooner, but no later. What is going to make it happen is lobbying from the Area Councils—two years is adequate amount of time. Won’t be chaos. CS: propose a friendly amendment? Wants to say it specifically. Not agreed to amend—isn’t necessary. BB: worth making it clear….still not agreed to change motion. Vote 8-0-1, motion carries.
- CS: additional motion: include existing neighborhood area council shall continue to exist and operate under the resolutions in effect at the time of adoption of this home rule charter. (basically is as is now until the new ordinances). Discussion: what harm is there in this? Unnecessary language can add confusion—but is it unnecessary? Yes, it’s in the new article 9…does that mean that it can’t be modified? Yes, it does. Vote 4-5-0. Motion defeated.
- Change in Article 9: “Ordinances providing for Neighborhood Area Councils shall include area council bylaws.” to clarify language.
City Council Rejection of Mayoral Appointments: Existing charter 3-3 language removed something that was added back in in 3-3d (about the City Council being able to reject an appointment with a 2/3 vote.
Definition of “Reorganization Plan” JF: reorganization was not defined in the charter, so came up with a definition. In looking at the definition, realize could be tying the hands of the Mayor and departments—felt restrictive. Definition included too many things. Most concerned about “reassignment of functions.” Discussion: better to include this info and be up-front about it.
Review Clean Draft of Charter:
Review Draft of Final Report: JF: Karen and Jane tasked with writing the first draft of the report. Began with the outline and included all those items. Wrote up a document to appeal to th widest audience. Sent it out and got feedback. Tonight, start with discussion content and worry about crafting the writing later. Looked at “highlight” section to determine what needs to stay in and what should be removed. Rhanna and Josh had sent extensive edits—gave copies to all CC members. Discussed what items were essential for a final report.
2017 Schedule: Meet again in two weeks (Jan 25); scheduled to meet on Feb 15th and March 1. Feb 1 is not a regular meeting, since deadline is fast approaching. Easier to cancel than schedule one. What still need to do by March 4th? Finalize charter, final report and vote to approve the changes. March 15th is the scheduled public hearing on the preliminary report. Have to have the draft published in the newspaper—can run on March 1 or 8.
Respectfully submitted by Sue Flicop