Monday, February 06, 2006

Identification of Issues for Charter Review Commission

At the February 9, 2006 meeting of the Pierce County Charter Review Commission, the Commission will brainstorm which issues merit either further research or the drafting of a proposed amendment. Each Commissioner will participate by naming those issues which they believe merit this further attention.

I have purposely kept my list short for now, since these issues are obviously important and we are continuing to take public comment. I remain open to the idea of adding other issues brought up by other Commissioners as well as the public. Also, there may be more issues which come to our attention later in the process. Below is my list for Thursday.

1. Electoral Reform/Instant Runoff Voting/Ranked Choice Voting

Over the last couple of years, the blanket primary has been ruled illegal and the state legislature has debated between a Cajun primary and the Montana primary. During our public comment sessions, we have had several people (including a representative of the League of Women Voters) come forward and advocate the use of Ranked Choice Voting. We have had no one advocate either the Cajun primary or the Montana primary.

As a result, this issue merits further attention. The Commission should assign a Committee to research the practical implications of moving the election of county officials to Ranked Choice Voting. We would need to study what changes would need to be made and what costs/savings are possible with such a methodology. This Committee would then report back on its research to the whole Commission.

2. Election of the Sheriff and other positions

We have heard much comment both in the media and via public comment about the election of the Sheriff. In addition, we have heard interest in the possibility of electing additional officials.

This issue seems like one where the Commission should discuss this as a Committee of the whole. If there is an agreement to move forward, we can then assign a Committee to draft a proposed amendment.

3. Performance Audit, Ethics and Grand Jury

Making sure we have the proper checks and balances in our government is a necessary function of the Charter. We have heard testimony that the Ethics Committee has too little power, the Performance Audits are required too frequently and the whistleblowers lack a forum to air their concerns. A Committee should be assigned to review all of these functions and propose an approach to dealing with all of these issues in a unified way.


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