Friday, January 12, 2007

Charter Member

The city council is looking at revising the City Charter. You can find the official version here, and a pdf version with some suggestions highlighted here.

There are a number of places that need to be reviewed. Sections 60 through 64 on the chief of police will get some review. Not sure if they are ready to try an appointed chief yet, but there is probably some clean up needed to bring it current with state law.

There are many changes needed to adjust for inflation. As unpopular as it might be, the maximum fine in section 5 is probably too low. Section 10, which sets compensation for the Mayor and Council members, needs some serious consideration. If these are paid positions, then lets at least get them up to minimum wage levels. They shouldn't be getting rich from being on council but the pay should be reasonable.

They need to look at Section 36, the Lake Nasworthy trust fund . Additional flexibility to use that fund for projects around Lake Nasworthy would help solve some long standing problems.

Section 65, on the parks commission, should be reviewed. At a minimum we probably need more than 3 park commissioners. The size of the city and the number of parks has grown significantly since the commission was formed. The small size of the board causes problems because of the open meetings act. We also need to see if the section on it's financing should be changed.

There is section 66, a Board of City Development, which was used before we had the Chamber of Commerce. Probably needs to be removed because it is no longer being used.

There is also a need to put the Cities stance on eminent domain in the charter.

These are just the highlights. Take a look at the charter, and give us input. The charter commission will be forming soon, and it would be good to have things ready for a November election.


  1. Please clarify this statement; "the small size of the board causes problems because of the open meetings act."

  2. The parks commission is subject to the open meetings act. The open meetings act makes any gathering of a quorum (majority) of the commissioners where commission issues might be discussed an open meeting with all the requirements for reporting and record keeping. We only have 3 commissioners so a quorum is 2. If two commissioners go to a home and garden show together, they can't talk about gardens, plants, etc. unless they post an agenda and keep minutes. It means that one commissioner can't call another commissioner to ask about something that happened at a meeting he missed without technically being in violation. Small boards are always a problem because of that. We have the same problem with the civil service commission, but that size is mandated by state law so we can't do anything to fix it. We can fix the parks commission.

    You can also make a good case that the number of parks has grown so much that more commissioners are needed to handle it properly. There are currently around 50 parks.

  3. Okay. Thank you for the clarification. That makes sense. The Park Commission does not oversee 50 parks though. If you are counting the ones at the lake, they are under the Water Utilities Department -- something else that probably should be changed since the public doesn't care who oversees the parks as long as they are well-maintained. The split responsibility however, can be cause for confusion.

  4. I was not counting the parks at the lake, but my number was rougher than it should be. It is over 40, with some new parks being in various stages of planning and construction. I also might be confused on the status of baseball and soccer fields.

    Still a lot of parks for only 3 people to manage.

  5. As I told Council last Tuesday, an item we really need to look at again is elected/appointed police chief. No one who was paying attention can say the last vote on this issue was a real test of the issue. It was dropped on the ballot literally at the last possible minute, after which the people who placed it there made zero attempt to support it. The issue was a dog-in-the-manger stunt to prevent any other Charter measure for the following two years. I take no position on the selection process at this time, but I recall even Chief Vasquez spoke in favor of change. I do think the issue deserves a genuine airing so long as we are going to have Charter items on the November ballot anyway. We cannot have Charter elections more often than every two years, now is a good time to have a real debate and actually find out what the voters think here.

  6. Well, as someone who works for the police department, I can tell you that there is no way another election is going to leave that department whole. It has taken two years to try and rebuild morale, and it is still a broken machine with no real reason for keeping it in place. There is a REASON that everybody else does it this way. Let's get on the same page and keep the drama out of the most stressful positions out there.

  7. As someone who works for the Police Department, I can tell you that as an 'insider' the chief issue does need reform. It has taken almost 2 years to attempt to rebuild morale within the department, and another election will be more than the department can handle. There is a reason that EVERYBODY else does it this way, let's get on the same page as everyone else and take unneeded drama out of the most stressful occupations out there. It is unnecessary politicking going on.