Sunday, January 08, 2006

Suggestions for changes to the Pierce County Charter by Randy Boss

Here is a quick punch list of some of my issues to be discussed before the Charter Review Committee.

Article 1
Section 1.2(3) Are we actually consolidating emergency services? I'll want a report from these guys on this issue.

Article 2
Section 2.15 We need to have a discussion as to whether we should reduce the Council to five instead of seven. Snohomish County (a Home Rule County with about the same population) runs with 5 Council Districts and 5 Council Members. Seattle just reduced from 13(?) to 9(?) and Tim Farrell has nothing to do anyway because his district is entirely Downtown Tacoma. We can at least split his district between district seven and district 2.

Section 2.20(1)(f) - We need to fix this audit timing. It's too often and too costly to keep going on this frequency.

Section 2.25 I want to include the appointment of a "Grand Jury" in this section - or maybe in the Executive Section Article 3 Section 3.25. A grand jury (if possible during the Janovich era would have solved a lot of problems - of course we probably wouldn't have Home Rule either).

Section 2.30 Do we want to include a statement here that if the council meeting are televised they must be televised in their entirety and public comments must be included?

Section 2.35 The first sentence must apply to resolutions as well as ordinances. The second sentence should require all sub-committee meeting (as well as council meetings) to be open to the public. If they are not open to the public then there is no requirement to maintain "a verbatim public record". Also, maintenance of this verbatim public record should be defined better then a "reasonable period of time". We should institute the state "archive rules".

Section 2.45(6) Should we give the Executive the line item veto? Second - What's the "journal of council proceedings". No such document. Third - This section does not state a time frame in which an ordinance must be presented to the Executive.

Section 2.55 Add to the end of this section"...but must provide for public comment."

Section 2.6 Should we have the Pierce County Code available on the web and at the office of the Council?

Article 3
Section 3.10 states that executive departments may be established by the Charter or by ordinance. I don't want an ordinance to override the Charter.

Section 3.20 If the Executive is to be nominated and elected by the voters of the County then it will need to be a non-partisan office because, under our new primary rules, some of the County voters will be unable to "nominate".

Section 3.25(1)(b) Does this mean that the Executive is a (default) law enforcement officer with those powers?

Section 3.25(1)(f) This is the line item veto question again?

Section 3.25(1)(k) This should be every two years in the off election (add numbered) years.

Section 3.30 Should we talk about term limits for boards and commissions?

Section 3.5 Should we split up the office of Assessor-Treasurer into two separate departments? Should this position be an Executive appointment rather than elected? If elected it should be a non-partisan position because of the new primary election rules some of the electorate will not be allowed to "nominate".

Section 3.55 Should this position be an Executive appointment rather than elected? If elected it should be a non-partisan position because of the new primary election rules some of the electorate will not be allowed to "nominate".

Section 3.7 Should the Sheriff be elected? If elected it should be a non-partisan position because of the new primary election rules some of the electorate will not be allowed to "nominate".

Article 4
Section 4.10 Should these all be non-partisan offices because of the new primary election rules some of the electorate will not be allowed to "nominate".?

Section 4.20 Independents and Non-Partisan candidates shall be placed on which primary ballot? All primary ballots?

Section 4.7(3) "...shall be filed by a determining vote of the people...at the next November general election,

Section 4.9 The term limits question again...

Article 5
Section 5.30 Do we want to place this limitation on the initiative process? Why should the "people" (and how can they be qualified to) identify funding sources for a specific initiative requirement?

Section 5.40 Should this 120 days be changed to a date certain (like July 1st) to allow for petition gathering up and until that date which is 120 days prior to the next general election?

Section 5.40 If the Council decides to enact an ordinance to implement the exact initiative then the two (2) years indicated in Section 5.20 will still apply.

Section 5.60 Should use the words "emergency ordinance only"... Instead of the word "measure" it should reference the specific section or wording of the ordinance.

Section 5.80 There is really no recall available to the people. Do we want to specify a process?

I'll provide Part 2 to you later.....Feel free to share this with who ever you think might have some interest.

Randy Boss
(253) 858-5100

2 Comments:

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous George said...

Regarding a Grand Jury: Perhaps each year a grand jury could be selected for the sole purpose of reviewing operation of county government and making recommendations for change. That is the main purpose of the county grand jury in California, along with some seldom used criminal purposes, and the annual report often results in highlighting problems that wouldn't otherwise be noticed. The report would be forwarded to the County Council and departments, including those headed by independently elected officers, would be required to respond within a certain time frame. That way suggested changes could be monitored on a regular basis and responsiveness could be evaluated by both the electorate and the County Council.

 
At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Cindy said...

After reading our Charter several times, I come away with the feeling that much is left unsaid, and what is unsaid is a great deal of the cause of so much of our troubles here. While I realize that the charter does not contain policy, it is nevertheless the basic instructions to the Council and Executive, according to how the PEOPLE want the County run, and those instructions are very limited in our charter.
For example, since 1990, under RCW 36.70A, this County is codified under the Growth Management Act. While there is a brief mention of Growth Management already in the Charter, there is no reference to the Growth Management Act, which this County is obliged to follow and has been since 1990. I see also that there are vague mentions that the Executive is to manage and administer over all departments, yet there is no clear description of the extent of administration nor any other instructions or accountability for failure to do this. Many departments in this county, under the Executive's administration, break laws every day, and many other departments also under the Executive cannot enforce their own regulations since they have no authority granted to them by the Executive to do so. Many Federal and State laws are not enforced at all, yet our Charter says we are supposed to uphold the laws including those of the State. Somehow there needs to be wording added to enhance the description of the responsibilities of the Executive so that there is more accountability for all of these failings, and much tighter reference to obeying all enacted laws, which the Attorney General confirmed are enforceable if they are enacted. Not abiding by these laws has cost our County a great deal already and will continue to do so. I truly hope someone will find a way to address this issue.

 

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