February 3, 2005
Regular Meeting Minutes
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
I. CALL TO ORDER: Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. on February 3, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E Main Street, Ashland, Oregon. He noted that 75 to 80 citizens participated in the January 20th public forum.
Members Present: Hal Cloer, Kate Culbertson, John Enders, Pam Marsh, Keith Massie,
Donald Montgomery and Michael Riedeman
Member Absent: Laurie MacGraw and Carole Wheeldon
Staff Present: Mike Franell, City Attorney
Ann Seltzer, Management Analyst, Staff Liaison
Nancy Slocum, Clerk
Culbertson/Cloer m/s to approve the minutes of the January 6, 2005 as submitted. Motion passed unanimously.
II. PUBLIC FORUM: Art Bullock, 791 Glendower, reported that a citizens’ group had been holding a three fold grass roots dialogue on the City’s constitution [Charter] since January, 2005. First, public “dialogue sessions.” Bullock invited the committee to the next session to be held February 14th. Second, “conversation cafés” held every Monday and, lastly, “support surveys.” The goal of this input was to “establish the will of the people.” So far over 200 citizens had been surveyed. Bullock summarized the results to date.
Montgomery disagreed with Bullock’s perception that the committee was fundamentally overhauling the Charter. He thought Bullock’s perception was swaying those he surveyed. Cloer wondered if Bullock was tracking the characteristics of the voters and asked for a list of the neighborhoods surveyed. Bullock said that although he had collected no demographic data, he was discovering the “will of the silent majority.” Montgomery asked Bullock why his group was more successful than the public forum in gathering public input. Bullock learned that many citizens believed their participation in a public forum would not make a difference. Enders asked Bullock for a list of the survey questions and the names of his volunteer surveyors. Bullock would supply the questions, but refused to supply names as he felt they would be subject to attack. Enders reminded Bullock and members of the public that the committee had thus far only researched issues and collected public input – no decisions had been made.
Jo Anne Eggers, 221Granite Street, encouraged those who had participated in the informal dialogues to come and enrich the committee’s discussions before any decisions are made.
Marvin Belford, a 20 year member of the City Band Board, had been approached by citizens that believed the City Band would be removed from the Charter. He understood no decision had been made, but believed removing the City Band from the Charter would mean its demise as no mandatory funding would be available. The band was a long-standing tradition that had an audience of between one and two thousand at each performance during the summer. Band members were paid based on seniority.
Harry Kannasto, Band Board member, joined the band in the mid 1940s. The band began in 1887 and became part of the charter in 1938. The band currently had between 70 and 80 members. Most musicians are professionals and he thought they would not play if they were not compensated.
III. DISCUSSION OF CHARTER PUBLIC FORUM
The public outreach subcommittee consisted of Marsh, Montgomery and Wheeldon. Marsh summarized the feedback forms from the January 20th public forum. The biggest frustration was the lack of time to thoroughly discuss the issues. Some participants were concerned that their comments were not properly recorded and that some of their questions could not be answered by committee members. It was also mentioned that some of the committee members were perceived as biased toward a particular point of view. Overall there was a lot of positive feedback and most participants were happy with the format.
Marsh announced that RVTV provided the committee with three sets of the final edited DVD of the forum to preview before it is broadcast. The committee would rotate and view the DVDs.
Enders was personally overwhelmed by the amount of information and frustrated by the lack of time to have in-depth discussions. He thought the forum was well organized and well publicized. Montgomery was asked by participants why his particular topic was brought forward as an issue. He thought that question was important to keep in mind throughout this process.
Montgomery reported that the subcommittee proposed three categories of issues as a result of the public forum. The first included the most complex and politically and emotionally sensitive issues: the structure of government and parks issues. He reported that the issue of the structure of government needed more research and committee education. The subcommittee suggested having more expert presentations incorporating perhaps a panel and holding another public forum within the next month for just this issue. The parks issues include whether the Parks Department should be incorporated as a city department and whether the Parks Commission should be elected. For these issues the subcommittee recommended additional committee education and devoting an entire committee meeting to public input. The second category included lesser complex issues including the Planning Commission, Council elections, City Recorder, Municipal Judge, and City Band. The subcommittee recommended more research on each issue, exploring options in a committee meeting. They also recommended soliciting public input and debate. The third category would include “other” issues and any new issues including: term limits, annexation, separation of police and fire, number of councilors and wards. Other potential issues included: periodic charter review, instant runoff system, ethics and role of charter and including a vision statement. Cloer noted protecting citizen sovereignty and public participation as other potential new issues. Subcommittee recommended tabling these Category 3 issues for now.
Seltzer noted that one of the City Council goals for 2005 was expanding the section on Citizen Participation. Enders suggested adding a one sentence statement to the Charter on the importance of public participation.
Enders thought that not every issue or comment gathered from the public could be given consideration. Riedeman disagreed saying that every comment deserved at least 30 seconds. Massie believed a list of those issues labeled as Category 3 should be made public and noting they would not receive much attention unless members of the public speak out. Committee agreed.
Seltzer announced that Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous would be doing a series of articles on each of the Category 1 and 2 issues.
Montgomery suggested committee members gain more education on all the issues in Categories 1 and 2 – especially on why each issue was identified by the committee. Massie suggested “focused” education and suggested the committee read the White Papers and bring a list of questions to a future meeting.
The committee agreed to hold a single-issue public forum on the structure of government. The goal would be to come out of the forum with a clear direction for the committee. Should we change the current structure of government? If yes, then how? Cloer thought the forum should identify citizens’ real concerns and then form the charter with that in mind. Marsh suggested the use of a survey.
Culbertson asked that guest speakers on the issue of the structure of government be invited to the next meeting. Cloer recommended a panel consisting of Lindsay Berryman, Burke Raymond and Bill Mansfield. Committee agreed. Seltzer suggested charter consultant Sandy Arc as a possible future guest speaker. Committee directed staff or Enders substitute speakers depending upon their availability.
Committee directed the public outreach subcommittee to decide the date and time of the forum and draft a revised timeline.
IV. OTHER ISSUES
Seltzer reminded the committee that they were scheduled for a City Council update on March 1st and a Council study session on April 6th from 12 noon to 2 PM. These dates could be altered based on a revised timeline.
Committee set March 3rd during the committee’s regular meeting as the Parks “mini” forum. Staff would ask the Tidings to publish an article publicizing the event.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
Nancy Slocum, Clerk