Ellen Smith for Oak Ridge - Discussion Archive Forum Index Ellen Smith for Oak Ridge - Discussion Archive

 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch      RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile      Log inLog in 

Charter Referendum

 
Post new topic   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.    Ellen Smith for Oak Ridge - Discussion Archive Forum Index -> Old Issues
View previous topic :: View next topic  

Will you vote YES on the proposed changes to the City Charter?
Yes
66%
 66%  [ 2 ]
No - I don't like this proposal
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
No - I am not eligible to vote in this election
33%
 33%  [ 1 ]
I have not made up my mind.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 3

Author Message
Ellen
Site Admin


Joined: 15 May 2004
Posts: 209
Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2004 10:50 pm    Post subject: Charter Referendum Reply with quote

The City Charter Commission has wrapped up its work by recommending a number of amendments to the City Charter. (See story from today's Oak Ridger.) Their package of proposed changes is in a PDF file on the city's website. The August 5 ballot will include a referendum in which voters can approve or reject the whole package. The ballot question will ask
Quote:
Shall the Oak Ridge City Charter be amended to remove
obsolete provisions, to incorporate changes to resolve
inconsistencies with state law, and to make certain
administrative changes dealing with city operations, which
changes are reflected in the revised charter that is on file
and available for public review in the City Clerk's office and
which will serve to replace the current charter in its
entirety?

Many of the proposed changes are housekeeping matters -- making the charter conform with changes to state and federal law, substituting gender neutral language for the old masculine pronouns Thumbs Up, eliminating inflexible requirements for when the Council and School Board are allowed to meet, providing for web posting of certain reports instead of paying for legal advertisements in the newspaper, etc. Reading through the proposal, I'm impressed with the thoroughness and care with which the Commission went about its work.

There are just a few substantive changes. These are mostly housekeeping related, too. They include increasing the pay of Council and school board members, which has been eroded by inflation. The pay still would be a very nominal amount, which I think is appropriate. Also, the new Charter would require the City to undertake a review of the Charter every 8 years. I think that's a good idea.

I am a bit disappointed that the Charter Commission did not endorse any more substantial changes. In particular, I have long felt that the 7-member City Council is too small. I think that a larger body (such as 9 or 11 members) would give more representation to various subgroups within the community and would be more likely to consider multiple points of view on the issues (in small groups minority opinions are likely to be suppressed). Also, the workload of the Council's various committees would be spread out among more people.

All in all, I think Oak Ridgers should vote a resounding YES on the Charter amendments, and extend our collective thanks to the Commission members, who are:
    Ray Garrett, chairman
    Ann Arnold
    Robin Biloski
    Rick Chinn, Jr.
    Brennan Lenihan
    Bob Peelle
    Karleen Richter
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ellen
Site Admin


Joined: 15 May 2004
Posts: 209
Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2004 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oak Ridger columnist Richard Cook thinks the Charter Commission should not have bundled pay raises for City Council and School Board members with the rest of the package. In today's column, he argues that the pay raises should have been a separate ballot item.

His point seems to be that the voters should be able to vote "yes" or "no" on pay raises for public officials (from $50 per month to $150 month), without any complicating factors. He also suggests that the charter referendum might fail because this measure is bundled with the others.

I don't agree. I think that Oak Ridgers are smart enough to recognize that the pay is a nominal amount, not a major fiscal commitment. People complain about not being able to vote on certain major expenditures, but this isn't one of them. Neutral

If you disagree, register to vote in the poll, and explain your vote here. Idea
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ellen
Site Admin


Joined: 15 May 2004
Posts: 209
Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Former City Council member Pat Rush is bothered by the idea that the City would no longer be required to publish financial statements and new ordinances in the "legal notices" section of the Oak Ridger. (Instead, they would need to be published on the City's website.) One report of her concerns is in today's Oak Ridger at http://oakridger.com/stories/071504/new_20040715011.shtml.

I like the idea of placing these items on the web instead of the newspaper. This will serve the purpose of publishing these items. As with the legal notices section of the newspaper, information on websites is widely available, but not very widely read. The differences include the means of accessing the information, cost to the City (a website is much cheaper), searchability (unlike the legal section of the paper, a website can be searched electronically), and public awareness (many more people will notice a new item in a newspaper than will notice a new item on the city website). On balance, I think that website publication of these items makes sense for Oak Ridge. However, after seeing Pat Rush's concerns, I think that the City Council and staff should phase this change in gradually to give people time to adapt.

Added Sunday, July 18: Pat Rush is not alone in her concern. Although the charter change would no longer require the City to publish various items in the newspaper as legal notices, I believe that the City should continue newspaper publication of these items. It may be a long time before the people who customarily read them in the newspaper are comfortable with looking for them on the Internet.

I still support the Charter referendum, but I think that City Council and staff should be judicious about implementing the changes it would authorize.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ellen
Site Admin


Joined: 15 May 2004
Posts: 209
Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This evening, Charter Commission member Ray Garrett told me that the current charter does not actually require full-text publication of ordinances in the local newspaper. The city is required only to publish an abstract, but usually publishes the whole thing instead (apparently part of the problem is that ordinances don't have "abstracts"). Oops

Regardless of what's required or not required, the proposed charter amendment will give the City some flexibility and will save the taxpayers al lot of money. However, because some residents have a strong interest in those legal ads in the newspaper, it would be wise for the City not to change the old pattern abruptly. Wink
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.    Ellen Smith for Oak Ridge - Discussion Archive Forum Index -> Old Issues All times are GMT - 4 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group