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Government is a 50/50 relationship: 50 percent is about structure and the other 50 percent is about the people we elect. When designing a system of government you try and create the best system regardless of the personalities and politics of the day. People come and go and politics changes, structures of government live on.
The U.S. Constitution is the structural 50 percent that is the very foundation of America.
Regardless of who is the president, there will always be a president with the same constitutional authority. This is also true for Congress and the Supreme Court.
The Charter Review Committee , of which I am a member, has been focused on the 50 percent dealing with the structure of city government.
In November 2004, voters approved Proposition F that replaced the Council-Manager form of government with a pilot “Strong” Mayor-Council system that will sunset in December 2010.
So what’s the difference between the two systems? Well, it is pretty simple actually, 75 percent of the difference is that we went from having a council-appointed bureaucrat as the chief executive to an elected chief executive. There were also other good government benefits as well like the city council selecting is own president, setting its own agenda and having an independent budget analyst .
Proposition F established a separation of powers with executive and legislative branches with checks and balances modeled on the U.S. Constitution … for five years. The clock is ticking.
So while we have always had a Mayor and City Council, we changed their constitutional roles. The Charter Review Committee has been reviewing those roles with the following issues:
2. Expansion of City Council
3. Mayoral veto authority
4. Audit Committee
5. City Auditor
6. Future Charter Review process
Last Thursday night, the full committee voted to move forward with recommendations for items 1-3.
That the voters should have the opportunity to vote on extending the Strong Mayor-Council system pilot till 2014 at which time it would become permanent.
2. That the City Council should be expanded from its current 8 members to 11 members, all elected by district and that redistricting should occur as soon as practicable as allowed by law.
(FYI n we have had 8 council members since 1965 when the city was almost half of its current population of 1.3 million).
3. That it should require a 2/3 vote of the Council to override the Mayors veto.
My thoughts on these items are pretty straight forward.
I believe in the Strong Mayor-Council form of government and that it should be made permanent. Call me old fashioned, but I like having the right to elect my chief executive with defined constitutional authority instead of a ceremonial figurehead with purely indefinable political power. I believe that the City Council should be expanded to 11 members due to population growth and for better representation for the neighborhoods. I believe that it should take a greater number of legislators to override an executive veto than it took to pass legislation in the first place.
What are your beliefs and thoughts on these three items and the others?
— ADRIAN KWIATKOWSKI