Posted: 12:09 am Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
By Andrew Abramson
Mayor Lois Frankel stressed again at Monday’s commission meeting, just as she did in Friday’s Post article, that she had no ulterior motive in selecting a five-person panel that will review the city’s charter and possibly recommend changes. The most high-profile change could be eliminating or extending mayoral term limits, which would ultimately have to be decided by the voters.
Frankel said she only asked for the review at the request of other commissioners, and that she asked all the commissioners weeks ago to nominate names and topics for the charter committee. She said she only received recommendations from Bill Moss and Ike Robinson, and that their nominee, Dean Turney, was one of the five people selected. Frankel narrowed down the rest of the panelists from a list provided by a nominating committee.
The only problem? The commissioners seem to have a different story.
An e-mail was only sent out last Monday to commissioners that asked for items they would like to go before the charter review committee. It did not ask for names of panelists, as the committee was likely already filled out. Kimberly Mitchell, as well as mayoral candidates Molly Douglas and Jeri Muoio, said they were never asked to nominate committee member names. If that’s the case, this was a charter review initiated by Frankel, Moss and Robinson, with the three other commissioners left in the dark.
At Monday’s meeting, Mitchell asked Frankel to expand the panel from the five people selected by the mayor, to a broader panel of 10-to-12 people. She said other city panels, including the one that looked at creating City Center, had that many people on it.
“This is the review of our charter, our governing constitution,” Mitchell said. “I ask that more people be added to the list, invited, and that the commission has input and suggestions, recommendations who some of those people might be.”
On Monday, Dean Turney said that his opinions regarding the charters were never asked, and were never a condition for appointment. He also said that he never spoke to Frankel directly.
At Monday’s commission meeting, Mitchell repeatedly asked Frankel to expand the committee, in which Frankel told Mitchell to send names to Jack Frost, who helps form city panels . However, the committee begins meeting this Wednesday, making it unlikely that the five-person panel will be tweaked.
Mitchell said it’s wrong that the mayor gets to choose all the committees in the first place, something that could be addressed in the charter review.
“One of biggest flaws I see in charter is that there really is no input from commission boards,” Mitchell said to Frankel. “The classic example is the idea that the boards and committees that determine these things can only be appointed by you, and that short changes the system as a whole. There are some checks and balances that need to be reconfigured.”