Youngstown: Council OKs just 4 charter amendments

By David Skolnick


Of the 17 proposed charter amendments put forward by a committee for consideration, city council agreed to have the city law department write ballot language for only four.

The four involve complying with daylight savings time, having a conflict-of-interest policy for city workers, ward redistricting and eliminating term limits for mayor.

Council met Monday to discuss the proposals from the charter-review committee, consisting of 11 members appointed by council and the mayor.

Council has the final say on what charter amendments will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. Council is tentatively scheduled to meet July 30 to vote on ballot language for the amendments they support.

The two charter amendments recommended by council without changes to the committee’s language are:

Having the city be in compliance with the starting and ending dates of daylight savings time, changed in 2007 by the federal government. The city currently follows the federal change even though the charter has the old dates.

A conflict-of-interest policy for all city employees forbidding them from a personal interest in the profits of any contract or job with the city.

Also, the charter-review committee recommended the seven wards be redistricted so they’d have similar populations.

The recommendation was for council to have the work done no more than 90 days after a decennial federal census.

Though all council members said Monday that they supported redistricting, they said the 90 days was not enough time.

Instead, council agreed that redistricting “shall” be done after there’s been a “reasonable population change.”

Council members didn’t say what they considered to be a “reasonable population change,” and didn’t give themselves a deadline to redistrict; something not done in more than 30 years.

Most council members said Monday they are committed to starting that process soon, though some said the work may not be done until the end of 2013 or later, assuming city voters approve it on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Council also agreed to have ballot language written to eliminate term limits for the mayor, but nixed the charter-review committee’s recommendation to create the position of vice mayor.

Some council members said they also were interested in eliminating term limits for their positions, but took no action Monday.

Council also agreed to changes to recall-election language, but opted to do nothing now.

As for the 12 other proposals, most council members said they strongly opposed some including eliminating council president as an elected position, having nonpartisan elections, cutting their pay, and having a charter-review committee meet annually.

“We’re not killing the recommendations, we’re just not drafting legislation for those,” said council President Jamael Tito Brown.

“It’s politics trumping good government, and the five months we spent meeting on this were a waste of the committee’s and public’s time,” Phil Kidd, a committee member, said of council’s decisions.

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