Voting in our district – especially in this election – might seem like an exercise in futility. Local candidates rarely face opponents, and those that do are almost guaranteed to win thanks to established political machines.
But this year’s ballot is packed with two extra questions that should transcend your cynicism and get you to the booth. The City Charter – the document that operates as a state constitution, outlining the functions of local government – was reviewed this year, and a referendum must pass in order to put them in effect.
The process, for sure, is mired in controversy. Observers have blasted the commission for everything from their board’s selection process, to the locations and times they chose to have public hearings. And the placement of the questions on the ballot is even under attack: they’re on the back-side in teeny-tiny type. Worse yet, the eight issues addressed are lumped together into two questions – one for term limits and another for seven different issues.
Below is the list of proposals as they’ll appear on the ballot.
City Question 1. Term Limits: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:
- Reduce from three to two the maximum number of consecutive full terms that can be served by elected city officials; and
- Make this change in term limits applicable only to those city officials who were first elected at or after the 2010 general election; and
- Prohibit the City Council from altering the term limits of elected city officials then serving in office.
City Question 2. Elections and Government Administration: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:
- Disclosure of Independent Campaign Spending: Require public disclosure of expenditures made by entities and individuals independent from candidates to influence the outcome of a city election or referendum;
- Ballot Access: Generally reduce the number of petition signatures needed by candidates for city elective office to appear on a ballot;
- Voter Assistance and Campaign Finance Board: Merge voter assistance functions, including a reconstituted Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, into the Campaign Finance Board, and change when Campaign Finance Board member terms begin;
- Conflicts of Interest Law: Require all public servants to receive conflicts of interest training, raise the maximum fine for a public servant who violates the City’s conflicts of interest law, and allow the City to recover any benefits obtained from such violations;
- City Administrative Tribunals: Authorize the Mayor to direct the merger of administrative tribunals and adjudications into the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and permit the Department of Consumer Affairs to adjudicate all violations issued by that department;
- City Reporting Requirements and Advisory Bodies: Create a commission to review requirements for reports and advisory bodies and waive the requirements, subject to City Council review, where the commission finds they are not of continuing value; and
- Map for Facility Siting: Include in the City’s facilities siting map those transportation and waste management facilities operated by or for governmental entities, or by private entities that provide comparable services.
Shall this proposal be adopted?