Northampton’s Charter Review Committee held its last meeting on March 2 and submitted its final report today to the City Council (see below). The Committee believes that patching the current charter is inadequate to correct its flaws, and that a new, more modern charter is needed:
…the Charter Review Committee recommends a new charter, and a charter review process of broad outreach, one encouraging community engagement in how we govern ourselves. The current charter is opaque and inaccessible, inflexible and inadequate to meet the contemporary complexities of governing well and responsibly. It is time for change, and the Committee urges the City Council to take action on our recommendations with a sense of the opportunity charter revision represents for our community now and in the future.
In a March 7 email to City Council President David Narkewicz, Committee Chair Alan Seewald states, “This report was approved by the Committee on a 5 to 1 vote, with Councilors Marianne LaBarge and Jesse Adams and Members Colleen Currie, Margaret Striebel and Alan Seewald voting in favor and Member Marc Warner voting against.” Committee member David Murphy (Ward 5’s City Councilor) was absent from the March 2 meeting.
Below is a complete blip.tv video of the Committee’s final meeting on March 2. Marc Warner tries to persuade his fellow members that the Committee should try to draft the actual language of a new charter, as opposed to leaving that task to another body. He does not prevail. This recording is 1 hour 17 minutes long and was made by Adam Cohen.
The minutes of the March 2 meeting will appear here when they are completed.
Video: Board of Health Charter Changes, March 1, 2011
Video and Minutes: Charter Review Public Forum (12/8/10)
Video and Documents: Charter Review Committee Meeting of 5/26/10; Origins of Northampton’s Charter
Contreas in YouTube excerpt: “This charter very much reflects its time…its 1883 time. The legislature as a group was very suspicious of centralized executive power. They liked to see these things that were incredibly dispersed, where the council has some independent role, and the mayor has to come to the council to get certain things done… When you read the new [modern-day] charters…that’s all gone. The mayor does this, the council does that. Those are the roles… You don’t see this commingling of powers and responsibilities that you see in these older documents.”
Routes of Charter Change in Massachusetts (PDF)