Council may regret limited charter vote

On the side

Name game: The committee to re-elect President Barack Obama is opening its fourth Mahoning Valley office on Saturday at 6 Youngstown-Warren Road in McKinley Heights, according to the campaign.

But an email sent by volunteers not authorized by the campaign spelled the president’s first name Baraka. Barack isn’t the most common first name, but you’d think one of the three supporters who had their names on the email would have detected that error.

But that would be a huge assumption as they also spelled the word representative three different ways, and misspelled many other names such as “robert hegan” for Robert Hagan, “David Betris” for David Betras, “James Malfi” for James Melfi, and made Liberty Township Administrator Patrick Ungaro the township’s “president,” a position that doesn’t exist.

Looking for volunteers: The Mahoning County Republican Party is holding a Mitt Romney volunteer recruitment meeting Thursday at party headquarters, 621 Boardman-Canfield Road in Boardman. A pot-luck dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. followed by the meeting at 7 p.m.

The decision by Youngstown City Council to move ahead with only four of 17 charter amendments proposed by a citizens committee — including one that is a drastic change from the recommendation — may come back to bite some council members.

Council meets July 30 to vote on what will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Council had legitimate justification to eliminate two of the proposals from the 11-member charter-review committee because they are too restrictive and have the potential to adversely impact the city.

Council also put aside three other recommendations dealing with department operations that are to be included in a city efficiency study. They could end up on the 2013 ballot.

Council members agreed that a change was needed for a recall election, but couldn’t muster a majority vote for any proposal — and there were at least four of them.

Council members said they needed more time to research this even though the charter-review committee gave them the proposal, along with the 16 others, on May 29.

Also, the charter-review committee wanted a specific process as to how council should redistrict the city’s seven wards so they’d have similar populations.

Council members said the 90 days in the proposal isn’t enough time to complete the work.

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

What’s reasonable? That would be up to city council.

And while members of council consider themselves to be reasonable, there are skeptics out there, such as members of the charter-review committee.

Two of the proposals that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot would change the starting and ending dates of daylight saving time, which the city already follows, and would create a conflict-of-interest policy.

The other proposal would eliminate term limits for the mayor. A few council members said they support this proposal as a way to move toward eliminating their own term limits.

As for reducing their salaries, eliminating council president as an elected position, going to nonpartisan elections, and having a vice mayor, council dismissed them and won’t place them on the Nov. 6 ballot for a public vote.

There likely isn’t enough time for citizens to get the needed 1,793 valid signatures by Aug. 8 to get proposed charter amendments on the November ballot.

But there is plenty of time for residents to gather the needed signatures for the 2013 election, in which city residents will vote on mayor and council president.

And the citizens may not be as considerate as the members of the charter-review committee.

How does an annual salary of $800 sound to members of council who currently make $27,817? Or a proposal to eliminate their health insurance coverage? Or a proposal to reduce the number of council members?

Will any of those proposals get on the 2013 ballot?

It depends on how angry residents are about council’s decision to not accept most of the charter-review committee’s recommendations and how organized they are to get the signatures needed to give voters the opportunity to decide on proposed changes.

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