City commissioners are making big changes

Register
Apr 22, 2014

 

At the next city commission meeting, legislation will be introduced reducing the number of commission members from seven to five members. Reducing the number of members would give more control to the remaining commissioners, less representation for the taxpayers, and generate additional salary to the remaining commissioners due to the vacated seats. As for the salary increase, the Charter Committee could not muster the votes to increase the commissioners’ salary, so the new commission will probably work the increase into the new legislation language so they can obtain their raise.
 
I don’t think the citizens are being evenly represented among the different areas of town. Projects seem to be slanted towards the high profile areas. All the residents have to do is to look around at where most of the improvements are being done while drawing their own conclusion. The residents’ wish list items are moving further and further down the list to accommodate the commissioners’ own pet projects. 
 
I have no doubt that the commissioners will eventually tackle the two-term legislation, as well. The citizens have implemented the Charter laws, but because a few commissioners don’t like the outcome, they think they can attempt to change the laws at a whim to suit their needs. It will be up to the voters to rein in the commissioners from obtaining way to much control.
 
The two-term is popular on both sides of the political fence because no one would like to see commissioners seated at the commission table for 20 plus years. If the incumbent is not performing to expectations, it is difficult to unseat the incumbent when he has name recognition. The longer the incumbent stays seated, the more power the incumbent accumulates. 
 
It is disrespectful to second guess the citizens of this community asking them to double check their vote, once again, by re-voting on something that is already law. The shrinking population should not be an excuse to start dismantling the Charter laws.
 
I don’t want to see some of the commissioners afraid to speak up, or some commissioners applying pressure to those commissioners who have a difference of opinion and do not wish to vote in unison.

Comments

The Bizness

I wouldn't mind seeing someone on the commission for 20 years if that person is doing a good job.

I think this commission is doing great so far.

You are making a lot of assumptioms in this post sharon, some of it may or may not be true.

MrSandusky

The Bizness, I agree with you. I think that Sharon is assuming that the average voter in Sandusky is some unaware boob that only votes for familiar names, rather than pay attention to the issues. She says that it is disrespectful to second guess the citizens of this community asking them to double check their vote, once again, by re-voting on something that is already law...as long as it is a law she agrees with.

Wouldn't it also be disrespectful to the voters if one were to assume that they would continue to elect the same person for 20 years if that person were not living up to his expectations?

Pete

Former Judge Bridget McCafferty of Cuyahoga County received 125,000 votes while under indictment by the Feds.

http://www.cleveland.com/countyi...

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes -- who's been under investigation for allegations that she abused court staff, lawyers and defendants -- will no longer hear criminal cases beginning Monday.

http://www.cleveland.com/naymik/...

People WILL vote for a familiar name.

Ralph J.

Like!

DGMutley

Biz,

20 years? No way.

You think the commission is doing great so far. The new commission has been in session for 3 and half months what great accomplishments have they done so far?

The Bizness

Got ride of a city manager that wasn't doing her job.

If someone sits on a seat for 20 years then that means they are doing something right. If they don't do their job to the peoples liking then they will not be voted back on.

DGMutley

Yes they did, didn't they. Now we go through it all once again. It takes a certain amount of time to become proficient at your job; just when we start turning the corner, wham, we have to start all over again.

I have a idea: How about the Commissioners start managing the city manager as they are tasked to do by the Charter.

Pete pretty much sums up one of the main problems with long terms. Look over there in Sandusky county; we have Prosecutor Stierwalt working towards 16 years.

You're a progressive person. I like to look for that in the folks I elect. Long terms don't encourage change.

With our present system a person can be a long term Commissioner. He just has to take a 4 year year break -- like Mr. Murray.

Pete

Is there a map showing where they live?

I assume it's public information.

DGMutley

The city's website lists the Commissioners' addresses except for Commissioner Brady. According to "White Pages" Commissioner Brady lives on Willow Dr.

Julie R.

You're right on target with this one, Sharon. That's why I said when people were applauding the very obvious pre-planned firing of Nicole Ard be careful what you wish for.

abigbear

change laws and cut seats to get a raise
is there a public vote to do all this or is
it the kings(bho) way?

YoMamma

Strong mayor and ward system! Then you have representation from each area in the city.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Hmm I am a bit torn. I see where going to five as it reflects a smaller population can be appropriate. But I'm more concerned about the representation of the citizenry than the quantity of government. Five may be efficient, but perhaps a ward system would be better to employ first? Give it a few election cycles (maintaining term limits), then it would be worthy to explore less positions if the trade-off is better representation. So it's a phase-in style.

Step 1: Move to wards, keep seven Commissioners and City Manager
Step 2: Evaluate if going to five Commissioners will ensure representation AND efficiency
Step 3: Evaluate if a mayor is better than a city manager, and if not, should the manager be elected or hired?

Despite its problems, potholes, and...hmmm...pergolas? (that's a fun word) Sandusky will be around for a while. There's no reason not to take things slow, steady, with public knowledge/ability to learn, and one at a time. It's a journey we all can take together.

Don Lee

Going to wards first means more public resistance to cutting the size of commission later, as residents of a given ward will be more likely to see a cut and/or consolidation as a direct loss of *their own* representation. "Commissioner X may be a bum, but s/he's MY bum."
On the other hand, consider that most commissions of the last couple decades have had one or two who just plain don't show up. I see that as an argument for cutting commission size, but I can also see that if a commissioner is elected to represent a given ward and then vanishes in a puff of don't-give-a-****, one might expect/hope voters in that ward would take it personally.
Less impressed with the argument, presented elsewhere in this debate, about "voting blocs," as they are something you like when the bloc votes the way you like and something you don't when it doesn't.
How about trimming commission, then going to the ward system?

Babo

Once you trim commission, it will likely be very difficult to institute a ward system. Why not do both at the same time?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Addressing the valid point about representation/my bum what if it was four wards with three at large at first. Then any spots cut would be from the at large pool. That way the wards get to keep their representative even after a reduction?

What may be nice is some language detailing when going back up would be proper. That way we have a goal of sorts to want to grow our city. Maybe if we hit 35,000 it goes to seven? Or in the case of a merging between Perkins and Sandusky to form a larger city what then?

But I suppose that's a whole other topic!

YoMamma

Like ^

T. A. Schwanger

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Norwalk--population 17000--7 council persons

Huron---population 7100--7 council persons.

Port Clinton--population 6000--7 council persons.

Point here is cutting the number of commission seats does nothing but limit discussion and debate impacting citizen representation.

The Sandusky community needs to ride the wave of Commissioner Murray's, Brady's, and Twines idea of cutting the number of seats by forming a citizen group to petition for a "ward system"). Under the current system, all 7 commissioners could live in one area of town.

Nemesis

"Point here is cutting the number of commission seats does nothing but limit discussion and debate impacting citizen representation"

BINGO!!
Yes, it's easier to get a smaller group of people to reach consensus. That's why the Founding Fathers broke Congress into two houses and the government into three branches - they didn't WANT it to be easy, because that moves power from the people to the government, and makes it easier to abuse that power. The worst possible government is a dictator - one person, and it gets better as you increase the number of people who must agree.

twosenseworth

The closest vote in recent memory involving our city commissioners was the decision to remove the city manager by a 4-3 count. If you follow along with how the city is moving forward every two weeks, rarely is there a vote among the seven which is not unanimous. On occasion, a 6-1 decision may surface. If you don't believe me, research the minutes of the commission meetings and be amazed.

Babo

I agree with Schwanger and Nemesis and speak from personal experience on a five member publicly elected board overseeing a budget larger than that of Sandusky. Reducing the commission will lead to more stagnation through suppression of new ideas and any dissent.

In my experience any dissent by a Board member was deemed detrimental to the organization by a core group and there was constant pressure to present uniform 5-0 votes to the public. Public discussion was discouraged and vote outcomes were invariably pre-ordained. If one opposed something or wanted to discuss alternatives it was next to impossible to even have the issue placed on the agenda let alone open for public debate. Abuses of the Open Meetings act were commonplace.

Our country was founded on the principle of wide open robust debate on matters of public interest and government. IMO, this move by Murray, Brady and Twine is designed to suppress ideas, limit debate and discourage anyone who doesn't walk in lock step with the ruling oligarchy. Time and time again in our nation yesterday's dissenting opinion or viewpoint gets overturned and becomes the widely accepted view.

Rather than reduce Commission, the city ought to implement The Hero Zone's idea of 4 ward seats and 3 at large seats to ensure the interests of all residents are represented, not just the interests of the political class.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you for sharing your experience! Also for the attribution though I cannot claim to be that idea's originator. I will be quite the amplifier for it.

Darkhorse

Mr. Schwanger's statistics are interesting and blows a hole in the theory that our population is shrinking and therefore we must have less city commissioners.