Wednesday, April 23, 2008

COMMENTARY On Preliminary Draft of Home Rule Charter

We read all 26 pages of the April 8th Draft and were impressed with its thoroughness and professionalism. The following observations and concerns do not imply that NewsLanc does or does not favor a change in the form of County government. More on that later.

1) The Chair gets to appoint the committees. NewsLanc recommends that appointments be subject to the approval of a majority of all five members of the Board.

2) Contrary to what was previously reported in the Intell, the Board may deal directly with members of the Executive Branch "for the purpose of obtaining information and advice." Otherwise they deal through the County Executive "exclusively."

3) Wisely, adoption of an ordinance requires a majority vote of all five members, not just the three or four in attendance. Approval of resolutions and motions can be by a majority of those present.

4) Provides for an initiative petition of "a thousand United states citizens who are legal residents of the County." Requires the Election Board to "pass upon the validity of the petition and the validity of the number of signatures thereon."

But then, strangely, it directs the petition to be "considered" by the Commissioners. It is as though the public got all dressed up to put a matter on the ballot and are told the only place they can go is to the Board! There is no need for a thousand signatures in order to get up at a commissioner's meeting and make a recommendation! NewsLanc recommends that such petitions be placed on the next ballot to become law. Either that or drop this sham provision.