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Review committee eyes charter changes

By Staff | Sep 16, 2010

Former Mayor Arnold Kempe suggested a new system for redistricting the city, saying that three districts with two council members each, with each chair up every two years, and a mayor with no voting powers other then a veto, would cut the cost of elections by two thirds and save council members from “Sunshine” worries.
A mayor with only veto powers, Kempe argued, would allow that person to meet with any council member at any time to discuss any issue because he or she would not be violating any of the state’s Sunshine laws, legislation that requires officials to discuss voting issues –and issues likely to be voted on at some point in the future — publically.
“What is really required everywhere is debate and discussion,” Kempe said.
Redistricting the city was one of several ideas thrown around by the Charter Review Committee on Wednesday, as they examined articles two and three of the city charter, looking for tweaks or outright change to what is, essentially, the city’s constitution.
The group is charged with recommending changes to the charter to city council, which then decides if the changes will make their way onto the ballot for voters support or reject. Any changes could be voted on next year.
The issue of severance pay was also bandied about as most, if not all, of the committee took issue with management employees who are terminated without cause getting four months worth of salary.
“The payment of four months salary definitely has to be deleted,” committee member Lynn Rosko said.
The main thrust of the conversation focused on redistricting, and the number of council members on the dais.
Some committee members felt that increasing or decreasing the number of council members was key to breaking 4-4 ties, but most agreed that deadlocking votes were pointless.
“The point of legislation is to kill it or keep it alive … if it’s four and four, it’s neither,” committee member Larry Barton said.
It also was suggested that changing the eligibility to run for office might be a prudent move, as someone who has lived in the Cape for only a year, which is the requirement, could not understand the complex machinations of the city, or the position, if elected.
Some committee members wanted two years, others four, and others five.
“I don’t think you can live here for a year and understand the problems of a city,” said committee member Scott Morris.
The Charter Review Committee meets every two weeks to discuss the city’s charter.