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Agendas and Minutes

Charter Review Committee (View All)

Regular Meeting Minutes

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Charter Review Committee
April 21, 2005
Regular Meeting Minutes
Council Chamber, 1175 East Main Street

Committee Chair John Enders called the Ashland Charter Review Committee meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. on April 21, 2005 in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Members Present: John Enders, Carole Wheeldon, Hal Cloer, Keith Massie, Pam Marsh, Donald Montgomery, Kate Culbertson, Laurie MacGraw and Michael Riedeman.
Members Absent: None
Staff Present:
Ann Seltzer, Staff Liaison
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

Mr. Enders requested that Carole Wheeldon be given the title of Committee Co-Chair, as opposed to Vice Chair. Committee reached a consensus to recognize Ms. Wheeldon as the Committee's co-chair.

Carole Wheeldon/Kate Culbertson m/s to approve the minutes of April 14, 2005 as presented. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

Carole Wheeldon clarified that during the meetings, the public is given the opportunity to speak on topics not on the agenda during Public Forum. During this time, each citizen is given 3-5 minutes, depending on how many people have signed up to speak and how full the agenda is. It was noted that the Committee should not interrupt the speakers during their alloted time. If a committee member has questions for the speaker, these should be asked after the citizen's testimony has concluded.
Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Stated that the Ashland Constitution group was established in January of 2005 and noted that this group would be holding a discussion tomorrow night at 7 p.m. He stated the goal of this organization was to identify the will of the people and to have this placed on the ballot. Mr. Bullock displayed an accountability ladder, which listed the voters, Council, Mayor and Manager and stated that the citizens of Ashland preferred higher accountability.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/Questioned whether the Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV) discussion was included in the Structure of Government issue. (The Committee clarified that IRV would not fall under tonight's discussion topic). Ms. Vavra expressed her support for IRV and noted the efforts of the City of Eugene's Charter Review Committee who had discussed this option and also noted the legal opinion by Attorney Blair Bobier who stated that cities could adopt this type of voting in their Charter.

Jim Olney/361 Wiley Street/Suggested that the structure of government be altered by having the citizens elect 7 council members, and then have those councilors elect one of themselves to be mayor. Mr. Olney stated that this option was worth considering under the hybrid option.

Laurie MacGraw and Michael Riedeman briefly explained the process for the roundtable forum and invited the members of the audience to come forward and join the Committee around the table for an interactive discussion on the issues.

Issue #1: Executive Mayor or Council Manager:
Don Montgomery noted the three alternatives for this issue: 1) Mayor, 2) Manager, or 3) Hybrid. He noted that a City Manager would have no political responsibility, but would be responsible in all respects for the administration of the City, which would leave the Council free from dealing with the day to day administrative functions.

Michael Riedeman read aloud the definitions of the two alternatives as listed on the "Alternatives Under Review" document.

Executive Mayor "Mayor serves as executive officer of the municipal corporation. Mayor appoints and removes, with Council confirmation, the City Administrator and City Attorney. Mayor supervises, and conducts performance reviews of, the City Administrator and City Attorney. Mayor organizes city departments and administrative structures. The City Administrator is responsible for administering city departments (except Parks?) and supervising city staff, but has no hiring/firing powers of the city department heads."

City Manager "Mayor serves as the political head of the city government. City Council appoints and removes the City Manager and City Attorney. Council supervises, and conducts performance reviews of the City Manager and City Attorney. City Manager organizes city departments (except Parks?) and administrative structures, and administers city departments including city staff supervision and hiring/firing powers. City Council maintains oversight of city operations without supervising or otherwise giving direction to city employees other than the City Manager."

Some of the comments made during the round table discussion included:
This issue is bigger than just who has oversight, they need to consider the City Manager's ability to hire and fire.
I am in favor if the Council/Manager form of government.
I don't think the Council would involve themselves in the oversight of the City Manager and think this responsibility would fall to the Mayor.
I think that the City Manager should be overseen by the Council and the Council should be able to remove the Manager if there was cause.
How would the citizens be protected from a tyrannical manager?
Should the City expand the powers of the City Manager so he/she has complete powers of hiring and firing of department heads?
Success of the City Manager option depends on the qualification of the manager.
It should be written in the rules that the Council should be able to override the decision of the Manager.
A Mayor is not necessarily the most qualified person to hire department heads.
If the Manager makes a precipitous decision, the City Council should be able to override that decision.
Having the Mayor hire and fire department heads is not the best way and this should be up to the City Manager.
The devil is in the details and they need to make sure that safeguards are in place before implementing the City Manager form.

Issue #2: Mayor Vote / Veto / Override
This option was briefly explained to clarify that the mayor can either vote or not vote, have veto powers or no veto powers, and if the mayor does have veto powers, could this be overridden.

Some of the comments made during the round table discussion included:
I think the Mayor should be allowed to vote and have no veto power.
I think the current system works well and should not be changed.
Because the Mayor doesn't currently vote, it is difficult for the public to know where he/she stands on the issues.
I support the super majority option, which is the original number of votes plus one.
Not voting allows the Mayor to be a better facilitator.
If Ashland switches to a manager form of government this would be taking powers away from the Mayor. If we move to this form the Mayor should be allowed to vote.
The Mayor doesn't have to vote for the public to know where he/she stands; usually you can tell by the way he/she conducts the meeting.

At the conclusion of the input session, the audience voted on the alternatives.
Should the Mayor be allowed to vote? 5 in favor. 0 opposed.
Should the Mayor have veto power? 5 in favor. 2 opposed.
If the Mayor does have veto power, could it be overridden by a majority or a supermajority?
     By a supermajority: 2 in favor.
     By a 2/3 majority: 4 in favor.

Issue #3: Appointment of Commission and Committee members
The 4 alternatives for this issue were briefly explained:

1) The Mayor proposes and appoints members of the committees and commissions with Council confirmation,
2) Council and Mayor together propose and appoint members of committees and commissions,
3) Mayor proposes and appoints members of committees and commission, except the Planning Commission, with Council confirmation. Council and Mayor together propose and appoint members of the Planning Commission,
4) Council proposes and appoints all commission and committee members.

Some of the comments made during the round table discussion included:
The Mayor and the Council together should make the appointments.
I support option 2.
I support option 3 because it separates out the Planning Commission appointments.
It would be helpful if the Council could have a role in selecting the candidates and then have the Mayor make his appointments.
Why pull out the Planning Commission? We are just reacting to headlines and it is not appropriate to single out one group just because that is the hot topic of the day.
The appeals to the Planning Commission decisions should be made to a hearings officer, not the Council.
The Council does not have the knowledge or depth of experience of what the goals are needed to make the appointments.

At the conclusion of the input session, the audience voted on the alternatives.
Alternative #1 - 0 votes.
Alternative #2 - 9 votes.
Alternative #3 - 1 vote.
Alternative #4 - 0 votes.

It was noted that this agenda item would be addressed during VII - Next Steps.
Carole Wheeldon noted her experience in management and her work as a city councilor. She expressed her support for the hybrid option with language that would reinforce collaboration between the elective body and the administrative organization.

Hal Cloer noted Brian Almquist's input, which indicated support for a City Manager hiring/firing department heads. It was noted that Mr. Almquist had recommended that the Mayor and Council participate in this process, but stated that the final decision should be made by the City Manager.

Don Montgomery agreed that the Mayor and Council should be involved in the interview process of hiring department heads. He commented that they needed to be careful to not create an environment where the Mayor and Council are involved in the workings of day to day operations and commented that there is a fine line between exercising oversight and micromanaging. Mr. Montgomery stated that the Council should have oversight but recommended that a safeguard be included to prevent the Council from micromanaging.

Pam Marsh noted some of the public input that came out of the January public forum. She stated that she hoped they could construct a model of government that put the Mayor as the political leader of the City and the Manager as the administrative leader of the City, and expressed her support for the hybrid model.

Kate Culbertson also voiced support for the hybrid structure and noted that policy implementation was crucial.

Laurie MacGraw stated that she was a strong advocate of a political head (mayor) and an administrative head (professional manager) following the policy made by the Council. She commented on the balance of power and voiced support for the hybrid form.

Michael Riedeman stated that he supports a hybrid, but not necessarily the one laid out in the summary. He noted that no one has voiced support for an executive mayor. He voiced support for the City Manager having hire/fire power and the Council having authority to remove the Manager.

Hal Cloer voiced support for the hybrid, and preferred that the Manager be accountable to the City Council.

Keith Massie stated that there are problems with the current system and noted that the vast majority had favored a switch to the hybrid model.

John Enders also voiced support for the hybrid and stated that the City needed to be professionally run by competent professional managers and those managers must have authority over their subordinate employees, including department heads. Mr. Enders commented that Ashland has been lucky to not have experienced major problems with the current structure and expressed his support for switching to the hybrid model. He added if they move to a City Manager, it is important to not be at risk of undermining the power of the Mayor and Council.

It was questioned if the hybrid model means that the mayor also gains the right to vote and veto authority? Comment was made that the Committee should vote on the pieces contained in the hybrid model separately.

Pam Marsh/Hal Cloer m/s to move toward a system of government in which a City Manager has hire and fire capabilities over the department heads and subordinate staff. DISCUSSION: Mr. Riedeman questioned who the City Manager would report to and stated that this should be determined before voting on the motion. The Committee discussed whether the Manager should be accountable to the City Council, which includes the Mayor or just the Council. It was also noted that they needed to consider whether the Mayor would be given the power to vote. Pam Marsh/Keith Massie m/s to amend motion to include that the City Manager will not be exclusively reporting to the Mayor. DISCUSSION: It was questioned why they wouldn't just say that the Manager is accountable to the Council and Mayor. Suggestion was made to vote on the motion on the floor and then clarify this portion in a second motion. Roll Call Vote: Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Kate Culbertson, Michael Riedeman, John Enders, Hal Cloer, Keith Massie, Don Montgomery and Carole Wheeldon, YES. Motion passed unanimously.

Carole Wheeldon/John Enders m/s for the City Manager to be accountable to the Council and Mayor under this form of government. Roll Call Vote: Pam Marsh, Laurie MacGraw, Kate Culbertson, Michael Riedeman, John Enders, Hal Cloer, Keith Massie and Carole Wheeldon, YES. Don Montgomery, NO. Motion passed 8-1.

Ms. Wheeldon noted that the meetings in May would be held at the Redford Room at Southern Oregon University. Ms. Wheeldon noted that they are scheduled to discuss the judge and city recorder issue at their next two meetings, and then the Parks and Recreation issue at the following two meetings. It was questioned if they could change what has been advertised so that they can continue the structure of government deliberation at their next meeting. Staff Liaison Ann Seltzer noted that they could revise the schedule on the City's website however the printed schedule in the City Source has already been sent to the printers. The Committee discussed the possibility of meeting next week to complete discussion on this issue. Several members stated that they would not be able to attend if an additional meeting was scheduled for next week. The Committee agreed to take input on the City Recorder/Judge issue as scheduled on May 5th and then continue deliberations on the structure of government at the May 12th meeting.

It was noted that the Committee has an agreement with RVTV for an airtime slot for three dates in May and two in June and recommendation was made for the committee to start thinking about the best use of this time and who would like to participate.

It was clarified that IRV would be discussed during the Council Election topic.

IX. ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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