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Councilman proposes on-going charter review commission

By Staff | Aug 6, 2011

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz thinks the city could benefit from a perpetual Charter Review Commission and is going to bring the proposal forward on Monday.

The most recent commission wrapped up seven months of work in April, pouring through the city’s charter line by line in order to suggest potential changes to city council, which decides which of those changes to present to the voters.

Only a handful of those changes are going to be on ballots this November, although the commission brought forward a host of potential changes that included pay raises for council members.

Chulakes-Leetz feels the commission didn’t have the time to fully investigate and discuss the city charter and instead were forced to meet a deadline that was not advantageous to the project.

“Rather than overwhelming a committee that’s installed only occasionally, this would provide for an ongoing assessment of the charter, which is a living document,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

The councilman would like to see those chosen to serve on the commission to do so for four years, with the group meeting quarterly or as needed.

Chulakes-Leetz thinks half of the previous commission could be selected by the current council, then the second half selected in November when the next council is seated.

There’s no one he has in mind, he said, other than citizens who are open to donating their time and efforts to the betterment of the city.

“The intent is to make it more of a workable business type format,” Chulakes-Leetz added. “Rather than the rushed procedure we created last year.”

Lynne Johnson was one of the commission members who served this last go round, and she agreed that a perpetual commission would be ideal.

It would create opportunities for the commission to dig into the nuances of the charter and then communicate those nuances to the public, she said.

“What we lacked because of the time constraint was the opportunity to ascertain the best and most efficient model of government,” Johnson added.

Councilmember Marty McClain thinks the idea of a perpetual commission is unnecessary and that the commission, if approved, would operate in limbo with no definitive goal.

“If something glaring pops up there’s nothing to say that council couldn’t put together a committee,” McClain said.

City Council meets 4:30 p.m. at city hall on Cultural Park Boulevard.