Volunteers Wanted for Charter Review Committee

The Northampton City Council home page issues this call for volunteers:

The City Council is seeking four volunteers to help conduct a review of the City Charter in accordance with Section 22-1(4) of the Northampton Code of Ordinances:

“At least once in every 10 years, in every year ending in a zero, the City Council shall conduct a comprehensive review of the City Charter via a special Charter Review Committee comprised of three Councilors and four residents to be appointed by the City Council President. Within one year following the appointment of its members, said Committee shall file a written report to the City Council outlining its review and recommending any changes to the City Charter that it deems necessary or desirable for the effective function of government in the City of Northampton.”

Northampton residents interested in serving on the Charter Review Committee should send letters of interest to: City Council President David Narkewicz, 210 Main Street, Room 18, Northampton, MA 01060.

The deadline to apply is February 26, 2010. Please call 587-1210 if you have questions.

See also:

Video: Bay State Village Forum for Mayoral Candidates, 10/21/09; Term Limits; North Street Condo Proposal
Video highlight: “Do you support term limits for the position of the mayor?” (2min 8sec)

Clare Higgins:
“We have term limits. It’s called the ballot box… I don’t think that term limits necessarily are helpful… I also think my opinion is less important than what the full citizenry’s opinion is, and that’s something that, if we do a charter review, that may be very well what is one of the things that is taken up in a charter review process.”

Michael Bardsley: “For the executive position, yes, I do support term limits, comparable to what we have for the national government… Running for office is very difficult. Running against an incumbent is even more difficult. It’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of money… We need term limits. It’s healthy for the community to force an election periodically and have a change…”

Best Practices Meeting of November 12: Video; Discussion of Term Limits (11/15/08)
…some suggestions saw disagreement, notably term limits for elected and/or appointed officials, which were touched on during 2:29:50-2:34:57 [Wendy Foxmyn spoke in favor of term limits, Ward 3 City Councilor Bob Reckman opposed them].

Video: Bay State Village Forum for At-Large City Council Candidates, 10/21/09
Video highlight: Which best practice recommendations should be prioritized and why? (5min 00sec)

Jesse Adams: “What I would give priority to would be to review the city charter. I believe that we have a very strong mayor form of government that is antiquated–that is by design of the charter. We have a mayor who chairs the council, the mayor chairs the finance committee, mayor chairs EDHLU, and I think that with a better separation of powers, with more power to the council, I think the whole city will benefit.”

“Power at the Local Level: Growth Coalition Theory”
The reforms were put forth as part of the ideology of “good government,” which meant “efficient,” “businesslike” government by experts and technicians, as opposed to the “corrupt,” “machine-dominated,” and “political” government alleged to exist in a growing number of cities. The new movement claimed to make government more democratic and less boss-dominated, although the actual effect of the reforms was to increase the centralization of decision making, remove more governmental functions from electoral control, and decrease the percentage of workers and socialists elected to city councils.

These reforms and their effects are as follows:

Off-year elections. It was argued that local elections should not be held in the same year as national elections because city issues are different. What this reform did was to break the many policy connections between local and national levels, while at the same time reducing voter turnout for local elections, thereby favoring conservative candidates…

Elimination of salaries for city council members. It was argued that serving on a city council should be a civic service done in a volunteer fashion in order to eliminate corruption and self-serving motives for seeking office. The effect of this reform was to make it more difficult for average-income people to serve on city councils because they could not afford to do so…

 Video: Presentation of Final Recommendations of the Best Practices Committee to City Council, 3/5/09
Download the recommendations online or view reference copies at Forbes Library, Lilly Library, and at City Hall in the offices of the City Council, Mayor, and City Clerk.