Saturday, January 14, 2006

Additional Comments from Don Williams

Ladies and Gentlemen:

By way of introduction, I was the guy who presented four issues for the Commission's consideration at the January 12 meeting, and I passed out the printed summary. I live in District No. 4 (over two years) and before that lived in District No. 7 for over 14 years. I know several of you already and I look forward to meeting all of you at some point. You will be seeing and hearing from me often during the term of the Charter Review Commission.

It looks to me that if the Commission doesn't get defined at an early date what kinds of issues it is intended to look at and evaluate for voter consideration (i.e., prepare a Mission Statement), you will become bogged down as advocates come before you and present issues that are outside the scope and mission of the Charter Review Commission.

You need to list out for the public in a Mission Statement a fairly broad set of general issues that the Commission is supposed to be evaluating. I don't want you to narrow down so much that only a few issues can be presented, but some of the speakers at Thursday's meeting, although their topics are of vast interest to themselves and many others (myself, too), they just aren't of the class that can be considered by the Commission in its evaluation of what should be updated and/or changed in the County Charter.

In particular, topics like "how to staff the jail" and "occupancy of non-conforming dwellings" just aren't anywhere near what the Commission can even consider. While the presentation by the college professor on "what should be the voting structure" is right in line with what the Commission needs to look at because it is so much tied with the County Charter.

The Charter Commission is not the place to rewrite the Pierce County Code. During the course of the next few months, you will hear about all kinds of issues. Anyone who reads the Charter will see that it is at a very high level of how county government operates. I learn a lot when people address a group like the Charter Review Commission.

But, what is your mission in terms of what issues can you even consider taking action on? Your job is to listen to the public, use your own brains and deliberations, and then come up with a list of ballot issues to be voted on next Fall that affect the way Pierce County government is organized and operates. You're not able to re-write the Pierce County Code, land use regulations, the county building code, find new funding sources, say how much money should be spent on any one area, etc.

So, I suggest that the Commission put out some kind of a Mission Statement paper very soon that states very broadly what kinds of issues you are able to consider. I welcome anyone who wants to address the Commission in any way and present their views, but your task is very limited in scope and that limited scope needs to be set forth early.

If any of you feel the same way, you need to tell the Chair or Vice-Chair so they can be thinking about how to express the mission of the Charter Review Commission. Maybe one of you should draft a Mission Statement and present it at a meeting soon.

Just trying to help.

Regards, Don Williams


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