Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jeff Hawkes inadvertently raises Charter concerns

Jeff Hawkes' Intelligencer Journal column of April 8 entitled "Commission's charter worthy of 'we the people'" raises concerns rather than abates them about the proposed Home Rule Charter.

Hawkes states: "The charter writers anticipated the potential for commissioners meddling in the executive branch. They addressed it by requiring the commissioners to deal 'exclusively' with the county executive."

As is the situation at both federal and state levels of government, legislative committees have the right to communicate with or call before them any government official for inquiries and to obtain reports. If Hawkes is correct, then the county executive would be tantamount to the county czar and that is hardly what the citizens desire.

Hawkes goes on to say "Citizens, through the power of initiative, may propose an ordinance or resolution. If they can gather the signature of 1,000 county adults within 60 days, the commissioners must vote on it. If they fail to vote, the proposal goes into effect."

Normally, an initiative is to place a matter on the ballot for voters to decide after first obtaining a requisite number of signatures from voters (not adults.) There seems to be little benefit to go to the trouble of obtaining a thousand signatures just so that the commissioners can say yea or nay, just as they can even without an initiative.

NewsLanc requested clarification from Hawkes but received no response.