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Proposed Charter Changes Threaten Efficiency and Integrity of City Government

Changes would erase critical checks and balances, remove safeguards for corruption and patronage
May 06, 2024

A group of City Councilors is introducing a slate of charter amendments under the guise of streamlining City government procedures for hiring selection and City elections, but these charter amendments reflect the opposite of transparency and efficiency. It is unfortunate that faced with crime and homelessness, a group of Councilors are wasting time on the politics of power, instead of bringing real solutions to the table.  

“Our community expects, and deserves, us to be focused on tackling crime and finding solutions to curb homelessness, not wasting time on distractions that are ultimately political ploys for power,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “I’m always open to a charter reform task force and community discussion, but over-politicizing police and fire, removing safeguards for patronage and corruption, and ignoring the public’s referendum for ‘majority wins’ elections, is  simply out of step with what our city needs.” 

One proposal would modify the minimum votes required for candidates for Mayor or Councilor from 50% down to 40% of the total number of votes cast. This proposal is not only undemocratic, it reverses an 11 year old public referendum, when voters decided that our elected leaders should be elected with a majority of the votes to hold office. Further, the proposal would not eliminate the need for runoff elections.

They are also suggesting that our City change the procedures to appoint and remove the City Attorney, City Clerk, and Chiefs of Police and Fire. These ‘govern by committee’ proposed changes would erase critical checks and balances that are in place to prevent corruption and patronage. They would essentially make these key city jobs “at-will,” and beholden to the needs of a few council districts, rather than the city as whole – as represented by the Mayor. The additional bureaucracy, creating 10 bosses for most executives, would politicize recruiting and promotion of professionals, create more turnover, and weaken the stability of police and fire leadership that our community relies on.

Given the enormity of the potential impact and the number of changes, the appropriate course of action would be to convene a Charter Review Task Force made up of City Council, the administration, and other representatives.