Youngstown voters should OK charter changes; more coming

It is the height of hypocrisy for Youngstown lawmakers to propose an amendment to the Home Rule Charter that would create a conflict of interest policy, when they clearly demonstrated a conflict of interest by refusing to place on the ballot a more significant amendment that would base their pay for part-time work (32 hours a week) on the average full-time (40 hours a week) salary of city residents. Of course, the councilmen and women are so blinded by their own self-interests that they fail to see how dumb they look in the eyes of the public.

It is no secret that this newspaper has been harshly critical of council’s handling of the charter amendments. But, there will be four on the Nov. 6 general election ballot which deserve the support of the voters. Why? Because they were recommended by a citizens panel that also proposed 13 others which council chose to brush aside.

We believe the 11-member charter review committee appointed by the mayor and council did a great service to the public in developing the 17 recommendations because the status quo of city government is no longer sustainable or acceptable. Youngstown is a shrinking city, but government has not responded adequately to the new reality.

The four amendments that will be on the general election ballot would: create a conflict-of-interest policy; change the starting and ending dates of daylight saving time to be in compliance with the federal government; change the language regarding redistricting requiring that it be done after a “reasonable population change”; and eliminate the term limits for mayor. Now, the mayor can only serve two four-year terms and must sit out a term before running again.

In adopting the four changes, members of council said they were a start and that others, such as consolidating and creating departments and creating a purchasing policy, could be considered in future elections.

Self-styled paragons of virtue

Members of the charter review committee and city residents would be wise not to wait for lawmakers to act on the remaining 13 amendments. They won’t. Does anyone believe that the self-styled paragons of public virtue would agree to reduce their annual pay to $20,721 from the $27,817 they now receive? By the way, they also receive full benefits. The president of council who now makes $28,110, plus benefits, would be paid $21,966. The proposed amendment would also make the benefits provided by the taxpayers secondary to those they are able to receive through other sources, such as retirement, employment or a spouse.

We urge the charter committee to lead the charge in preparing an initiative petition reflecting the 13 recommendations that were shelved by city council so the voters of the city of Youngstown can have a say as soon as next year.

The Vindicator supports the passage of the four amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot — and the grass-roots effort to change the way the city of Youngstown is governed.

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