Charter Review Minutes, Oct 4
CITY CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION
COUNCIL COMMITTEE ROOM
5:30 p.m., October 4, 2016
Members present for roll call: Mike Atcheson, John Beaudoin, Gladys Bratton, Lenny Cacchio, Fred DeMoro, Paula Derks (left at 6:47 pm), Jim Devine, Jose Ruiz
Members absent for roll call: Brad Cox, Michael Dayton (arrived at 5:37 pm), Terry Trafton (arrived at 5:46 pm), Ron Williams (arrived at 5:34 pm)
Staff Liaisons present: Brian Head, Denise Chisum, Stacy Lombardo
Call to Order:
The October 4, 2016, City Charter Review Commission was called to order by Chairman Bratton, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 220 SE Green Street, in the Council Committee Room. Notice had been provided by posting the meeting notice with a tentative agenda, at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, at both entrances into City Hall. A copy of the agenda was also placed on the City’s web site.
1. Approval of September 20, 2016, Action Letter.
On motion of Commissioner DeMoro and second by Commissioner Atcheson, the Commission voted unanimously 8-0 (Commissioners Cox, Dayton, Trafton and Vice Chairman Williams “Absent”) for approval of the Action Letter for September 20, 2016. Motion passed.
2. Public Comments -
(This is an opportunity for the audience to address the Commission on any items not on the agenda.)
Mr. Steve Arbo, City Manager, gave a brief presentation about the “No Tax Increase” General Obligation Bond initiative that will be on the November 8, 2016 ballot. The ballot language is “Shall the City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of
$14,500,000.00 for the purpose of making public safety improvements including (a) the acquisition and installation of new emergency services radio equipment and related infrastructure (with interconnections for public safety and other operations of the City), (b) the acquisition, construction, furnishing and equipping of a new fire station to replace Fire Station No. 3, and (c) the acquisition of fire equipment and apparatus?”
Mr. Troy Jackson, resident of Council District 4, asked the Charter Review Commission to add a network based communications/social media policy to the charter. He stated his concern that the City is exposed to unnecessary law suits and poor public image due to careless posts from City employees and elected officials. He added that right now in Lee’s Summit there is a current City Council member that uses his social media extensively, he uses the term “official” along with the words “City of Lee’s Summit” on the header of his Facebook page and when you scroll through some of his posts you can find many opinions, both religious and on social issues, that have no place on an official city page. There are also many posts that question the ethics of other City Council members and accusations of fraud among City employees, the city has suffered negative publicity because of it. Mr. Jackson left several samples of social media policies from other cities, businesses and police departments for the Commission to review and consider.
Mr. Mark Bredemeier, resident of Council District 4, addressed the Commission with several concerns. Mr. Bredemeier served on the original Charter Commission and was the Vice Chairman of the first Charter Review Commission. He stated that he has very serious concerns of some changes that have been proposed. He believes they would alter the form of government by weakening the position of the Mayor and denigrating the power of elected officials in favor of unelected officials. He believes it would result in the stifling of descending and minority viewpoints.
He brought up some housekeeping issues first;
• Section 3.13 (f) Emergency Ordinances proposed subsection (3) An appropriation for the payment of current expenses of the City government or payment of compromise settlement of damage claims upon recommendations of the City Attorney – the C in City should not be capitalized to be consistent with the rest of the document.
• Section 12.1 Granting of Franchises – the Commission should not add an “e” to the word “therefor”, it changes the meaning of the word. He suggested removing the word “therefor” and adding the word “such” before the word “application”.
He then listed his concerns in order of ascending importance.
• Section 10.2 (f) referendum processes and the petition committees deadline, 14 days is not enough time for referendum process to go through, it should be 21 or 30 days.
• In Section 4.4 Powers and Duties subsection (c) the Commission has proposed removal of the Mayoral veto and subsection (a) the Commission has proposed making the Mayor a full time voting member of the Council. Mr. Bredemeier believes that these will result in the form of government being changed from what is called a semi strong executive with a veto and making the Mayor just a super member of the legislator.
• He said that the reason the last Commission gave the election of the Mayor Pro Tempore to the Council was because they believed the legislative body should be able to appoint their own leader.
• Section 3.15 Charter Violation and Ethics Code – Mr. Bredemeier said the proposed amendment shifts the power of elected officials to unelected officials. He believes that this would enable elected officials, the City Manager and the City Attorney to sit in judgment of elected officials for alleged ethics violations. He didn’t see in the proposed amendment where the City Manager or City Attorney would be held to the same provisions of scrutiny and removal. He said he doesn’t believe that unelected officials should be weighing in on the behavior of elected officials; it takes away the power of the elected officials and from the people that elected them. The last Commission purposefully took out a provision that stated that elected officials could be removed from office for ethics violations the same as if they had moved out of district because they didn’t believe that other elected officials should be sitting in judgment and taking the place of the electorate in deciding if someone should stay in office or not.
3. REVIEW OF ARTICLES:
A. Article III
On motion of Commissioner Dayton and second by Commissioner Devine, the Commission voted unanimously 11-0 (Commissioner Cox “Absent”) to reopen Article III for discussion. Motion passed.
Section 3.4 Mayor Pro Tempore – The discussion included, but was not limited to:
• what is being gained by having the Mayor choose essentially the Speaker of the House for the City Council-it doesn’t separate powers between legislative powers;
• concern there would be no checks and balances;
• a review of the pros and cons;
• events that have happened with the City Council in the past few years;
• giving the electorate an option for change or not;
• term limits for Mayor Pro Tempore appointments;
• the other option that had been discussed was the Council to select the Mayor Pro Tempore but the Mayor would choose the committee assignments.
On motion of Commissioner Cacchio and second by Commissioner Ruiz, the Commission voted 5 Yes-6 No (Commissioners Beaudoin, Bratton, Derks, Devine, Trafton and Williams “No” and Commissioner Cox “Absent”) to revert back to the current Charter language that the Council will choose the Mayor Pro Tempore. Motion failed, Section 3.4 will stay as amended.
Section 3.2 (a) City Council – Composition; Qualifications; Election and Terms – The discussion included, but was not limited to:
• Splitting the city into eight smaller council districts, one councilmember per district:
• concern about the loss of institutional knowledge when the one councilmember in a district is termed out;
• could possibly increase the opportunity for lobbyists to influence new councilmembers - easier for lobbyists to buy 1 representative then it would be to buy 2 representatives;
• if you only have one representative per district then there isn’t any representation when a councilmember is absent;
• the chance of district representation on committees would be cut in half and the possibility of stacking committees;
• candidates are running unopposed already with 4 districts;
• 8 districts could pit affluent districts against less affluent districts.
• Question 2 on the November ballot regarding state contribution limits and perhaps adding contribution limits to the charter;
• the Commission discussed the state representation, police districts, socio-economic situation.
On motion of Commissioner Trafton and second by Commissioner DeMoro, the Commission voted 2 Yes-8 No (Commissioners Atcheson, Beaudoin, Bratton, Cacchio, Dayton, Devine, Ruiz and Williams “No”, Commissioners Cox and Derks “Absent”) to amend Article III, Section 3.2 (a) to change 4 council districts to 8 individual council districts with 1 Councilmember per district.
Section 3.13 (c) Legislative Proceedings – Voting – The discussion included, but was not limited to:
• the Mayor always voting last;
• all votes or only votes on resolutions and ordinances must be by roll call or simultaneous electronic display;
• what happens if a Councilmember hits the wrong button while voting.
No motion to amend.
4. Roundtable – None
The October 4, 2016, City Charter Review Commission meeting was adjourned by Chairman Bratton at 7:33 p.m. at City Hall, 220 SE Green Street, Council Committee Room.
Action Letter by Stacy Lombardo, Public Works Administrative Assistant, Recorder.