At Tuesday’s meeting, the common council approved a resolution forming a Charter Review Commission consisting of the following members: Robert Going (who was recommended as chairman), Jerry Skrocki, Marie Gavry, Mario Villa, Jeff Chace, Bob DiCensa, and Mike Sampone.
At the committee meeting held before the vote, 3rd Ward Alderman Ron Barone said that he would entertain a suggestion for a name from Mayor Ann Thane. Thane replied that she did not have any.
Thane later commented on the lack of any resumes collected from any of the volunteers saying, “When I’ve done this in the past, when we’ve made AIDA appointments or when we’ve appointed to the URA or any other commissions, I’ve asked for people to send their resumes in and then they’ve been vetted by everyone…we talk about goals and outcomes that we expect…I just feel you are rushing, I don’t understand why you are so hurried about this.”
“Because I want it on by November,” answered Barone, referring to the next regular election day when a public referendum on any proposed charter changes could be held. “I want this charter changed…because I think it’s horrible you can’t tell what it does…I don’t want to go to court every day because that charter doesn’t state it right or because some judge misreads it…I want it so simple…that a two year old child can read it and understand it. That’s how simplified I want it…because I don’t want the taxpayers to go back to court and have to pay for our stupidity.”
To Thane he said, “You get your own charter commission, you do whatever you want. I’m going to put one in place. And I’m going to dictate to them as to what we want done.”
“It’s very wishy, washy,” said 4th Ward Adlerwoman Hatzenbuhler about the charter, “I think because society has become very litigious, it’s best to make things black and white so we don’t go that route ever again…it’s not just society, our city has changed and I think…every ten years, to review it, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Last month, the common council Republicans dismissed the advisement of Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis and the opinions of lawyers consulted with by Thane and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman. Following advisement of their own choosing, they passed a resolution authorizing Hatzenbuhler to sign a contract that Thane refused to sign. Hatzenbuhler’s signing of the contract prompted a lawsuit by Thane which Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise decided in her favor. Although the council rescinded the contract just before the ruling, the decision clarifies that under the charter, only the mayor has the power to negotiate and sign contracts.
Audio clip of the exchange between Thane and Barone: