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Panel OKs more changes

Published: Tue, May 8, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.


Final charter review plan will be presented to council by June 1

By Elise Franco



The city’s charter-review committee has approved another handful of recommended changes for city operations.

Recommendations approved Monday are:

To retain seven council members and redistrict each ward every 10 years, based on census population, so that each ward has an equal number of residents.

Phil Kidd, a committee member, said if the wards are redistricted based on the 2010 census, each ward would have about 9,500 residents.

If a council person vacates the position after serving for fewer than two years, all precinct committee members of that ward would vote in a replacement. If the vacancy is created after two or more years, a special election would be held.

The Parks and Recreation Commission would be abolished, and the parks director would be appointed by and report directly to the mayor. The parks would then function as all other city departments currently function.

Scott Schulick, committee member, said most residents, city department heads and city council members who were asked their opinion on this matter felt the parks would function better without a commission.

“Our parks and rec department isn’t in great shape,” Schulick said. “So the issue has become, would the parks be in better condition if the mayor had the ability to hire and fire the park director?”

Also approved was a recommendation that a charter-review committee convene annually to review the charter. The committee would continue to be appointed by the mayor and council.

The final recommendation was to change the name of the Division of Housing to the Division of Property Maintenance, which would encompass inspections, zoning and demolitions.

The 11-member committee plans to present its final recommendations to city council by June 1. Council members must approve the proposals before they can be placed on the November general- election ballot.

Eight of the 11 charter committee members were appointed by council members with the other three selected by Mayor Charles Sammarone.

Jerome Williams, committee chairman, said they voted to recommend about 30 issues but will choose significantly fewer, likely five or six, to actually present to council for approval.

“We have to prioritize,” he said. “We don’t want this to all be in vain. We believe in all [30] of these issues, but we’ll go to them with the ones we feel really strong on.”

The biggest disagreement of the evening came during discussion over how to proceed with a public forum scheduled for May 22, where residents would have the chance to hear how and why the committee made its decisions over the past several months.

Most of the members agreed that the public should be privy to information regarding all 30 issues the committee considered for recommendation, but would only be able to give input on the top 10 or so that the committee deemed highest priority.

Kidd suggested presenting all of the issues to the public and then polling to find those they believe are most important.

“We need to hear public input based on what they feel is a priority,” he said.

“This is going to be a very important issues for the public.”

Williams felt that presenting all of the issues to the public would create confusion because the committee would already have chosen its top issues.

“They’ve had the right to be at every single meeting we’ve had,” he said.

“They’ve not heard all the information we gathered.”

Williams said he feared that if the public favored issues the committee didn’t plan to recommend to council, it would be viewed as the committee going against the public.

What information, if any, that the public will be polled on during the forum is still undecided.

A time and location for the meeting will be announced at a later date.


1peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

"Williams said he feared that if the public favored issues the committee didn’t plan to recommend to council, it would be viewed as the committee going against the public."

Um, hello, Mr. Williams? The "public" is going to feel that way anyway if they discover (and we have) that the committee took these recommendations to the Council without letting us give feedback on which ones were the most important to US, first.

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2Yo_Charter_Review(6 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't forget that most of these folks were picked by council members because they would keep council members' interests in mind when creating these recommendations. In other words, shills for council members who receive $27,800 salary and full health benefits. Council doesn't want to lose their sweet piece of city hall cake.

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3peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I really feel that if the residents of Youngstown make a loud enough stink about this, we will get our way. And if we don't, then we will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this committee in NO way, represented we the people.

And there will be hell to pay.

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4peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

OH and just so everyone is aware - the original committee member who was appointed by Annie Gillam was replaced, for whatever reason, by Mr. Ken Simon - who as of this writing, has not attended one single committee meeting, nor even provided the committee members with his contact information!!!

This means that the residents of Ms Gillam's ward have had NO representation on the committee since his appointment. WTH??

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5ChrisTravers(4 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The residents of Youngstown are too often the victims of decisions prompted by the fear of anticipated outcomes rather than the obligation to do the right thing. The fear expressed in this case is a statement that suggests “we’re afraid they’ll be confused” when in fact it’s a fear that accomplishes nothing except protection of the self-interest of the few at the expense of avoiding valuable input from the many.

Backpedaling on a plan that would enable Youngstown residents to weigh-in on Charter revisions through instant polling at a public meeting is cowardly if not simply lacking in needed transparency. Should the committee vote to short circuit the public’s ability to express its opinion, then they will likely have more to fear when the public finds other ways to demonstrate its opinions on proposed changes to the charter.

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6ChrisTravers(4 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Left out several words in the first sentence of the above comment. Should be "... rather than the beneficiaries of an obligation ..."

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