Council discusses potential names for charter review commission

Eight people were listed as having expressed interest in being part of a charter review commission at a Committee of the Whole meeting held Friday night.

Former corporation counsel Robert Going was one of the names listed and was also recommended by 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler for the role of chairperson, citing his previous experience on charter review commissions. The other names listed were: Jerry Skrocki, Marie Gavry, Tony Leggerio, former mayor Mario Villa, Jeff Chace, Bob DiCensa, and Don Diehl.

According to Hatzenbuhler, any other city resident can still volunteer for the commission by contacting her or their respective ward’s council member. The council will take the matter up again at a meeting this Tuesday, April 15th at 5:45pm.

Mayor Ann Thane questioned the timing of the action saying, “given the budget, the capital projects that we have to do and the work you need to do on the corrective action plan…I don’t understand why there is a rush to get this on for Tuesday night, when you could have a thoughtful dialog around this.”

“The thing is, we’re not going to be involved in it, it’s going to be turned over to the committee,” said Hatzenbuhler, “We’re not going to sit in on the committee.”

Thane also questioned the purpose of the commission, asking “so they have no goal or direction? There’s no real concern? I don’t understand then why you’re even doing it.”

Hatzenbuhler replied,“What’s happened… in several cases, there is ambiguity…as an example, the golf commission…”

“That’s not in the charter,” interrupted Thane.

“That’s correct…but it does not specifically say that the mayor has the appointments.”

After the meeting, Hatzenbuhler said that the formation of the commission was not “retribution” but rather an attempt to clarify ambiguity in the charter. She said that the idea of a commission was one that she had talked about during her campaign and also when she first took office in January.

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8 Responses to Council discusses potential names for charter review commission

  1. AvatarDiane says:

    This has been discussed with the other council members at various times since taking office. It seems that in order to make things clear there needs to be clarification in the charter. Our society in general has become more litigious which is very costly and so to eliminate any ambiguity I recommended to my counterparts a review of the charter. Tuesday night will be just the technicality of the appointments and from there they will meet on their own and go over the charter from the beginning to end. So this will not take time away from the council and its current duties associated with the budget and the corrections in the controller’s office, as that is what the staff does. We do not sit on his shoulder daily and direct him. If the commission does find areas of concern it will be their job to make recommendations to the common council no later than mid August. There will be a public hearing to address the results and relevant issues will be placed on the November ballot as need be.
    This is certainly not political as has been suggested as there are at least three parties that I know of represented at present.

    And if you would like to join you would need to call your alderman or myself and let one of us know of your interest in serving.

    Thank you, Diane Hatzenbuhler, 4th Ward Alderwoman

  2. AvatarMichael says:

    Some of the names being forwarded are retreads of past charter reviews…..maybe they should step aside and allow some fresh faces…get a new prospective. This seams like its pay back for the golf course ruling .

  3. The time that should be taken is in the canvassing for candidates, developing direction for the group, and in thoughtful discussion of outcomes. There has been no discussion of structure or goals beyond vaguely referring to “some things” that need to be made clear. I don’t find this to be a particularly professional approach to business.

  4. The “Politics of Retribution” has taken up lodging in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The timing of this is incredible and begs a closer look by the City’s citizens. Alderwoman/Deputy Mayor Hatzenbuhler has chosen to take up this “noble” cause on the heels of a court decision that was counter to her view. She has, according to some on the council, unilaterally chosen her legal confidant and adviser as Chair to revamp the charter her faction failed to convince a judge was in force.
    To say this is non-political is either comedic or delusional. Given the Alderwoman’s attempts to elevate the importance of what has to this point been only a ceremonial post to predominance, I fear, points to the later.
    On January First Ms. Hatzenbuhler and company came riding into town, guns blazing, announcing there was a “New Sheriff” in town. It seems they then promptly sat down in their own little circle of power and began throwing what might be left of the City’s treasure on their campfire. A costly court battle – time lost to senseless arguing and posturing – the reduction of fees collected from contracts – and now spending money on a charter review commission designed to revamp the city government which more and more is beginning to resemble the atrocity of the former County Government that was rejected by 7 out of 10 voters.
    At some point there needs to be a recognition that the City is led by 5 legislators and 1 executive and that ALL need to be involved in this review and appointment of the commission that will be expending city funds to do it.

  5. AvatarRobert N. Going says:

    The Commission has no powers other than to allow the voters decide any issues they think should be addressed. In 2004 the mayor appointed a charter commission and the common council another. As I recall, the public had no trouble discerning the various issues and adopted a mixed bag of reforms. The current corporation counsel was on the common council’s charter commission and I was on the mayor’s. The names I see mentioned here seem pretty multi-partisan to me. The worst results I’ve ever seen from a charter commission came when all fresh faces were brought in. If I have a philosophy about these things, it’s Burkean.

  6. Avatarbob stern says:

    Based on conversations on Facebook it would seem like the goal might be to clarify that a mayor is unnecessary in Amsterdam and the Burkeans will push for the dissolution of city government, at which point the members of the commission who want a piece of the pie may resist. Should be interesting.

  7. AvatarRobert Purtell says:

    First let me say that I don’t live in the city, but I am a stakeholder being that my business is in the city and I often invest in the city. The risk I foresee is that often people do not understand the referendums that they vote on, charter revisions may pass and may create further misunderstanding. It is evident that although I agree the new form of county government, there remains many areas that are not clear and will take many years to clarify.
    I would also suggest that any review take as much time as possible to complete, vetting as much as possible. I would think that it should occur extending past a standard election cycle as to not appear to be politically motivated.

  8. AvatarRob Millan says:

    Morrison took the words right out of my mouth. The ‘new sheriff in town’ and ‘guns blazing’ are perfect analogies, although my distaste for firearms had me using ‘arms swinging right out the corner.’ Nevertheless, this extremist approach to handling what Diane says are just a few ‘problems’ will prove disastrous, especially with the callous and hasty approach that’s being taken. I can’t help but think that the few people mentioned as possible candidates for the review will have everything but the good intentions of Amsterdam in mind, instead taking the very well documented anti-Ann Thane approach they have screamed for the last several years. This cannot go unmentioned. It also does not matter that Diane claims ‘[The Common Council is] not going to be involved in it, it’s going to be turned over to the committee,’ since the aldermen will most certainly have a say in exactly who is among those candidates. It seems only natural that they would choose someone who doesn’t fall in line with their ideology. And I’ll assume she meant ‘commission’ and not ‘committee,’ but correct me please.

    I think most people would agree that the ‘we just want to clarify a few things in the Charter to be less ambiguous’ will go down in history as quite possibly the biggest chunk of poppycock ever to have been fed to the people. Ron and Patsy both know this. People ought to know that you can work diligently to ‘clarify’ to no end and finish with what what you think is perfect and still have endless ambiguity as your result so long as even the most rational people continue to interpret law. That’s pretty fundamental. It isn’t fair that this is being used as the excuse to revamp the charter.

    Have there been any specifics beyond golf that need ‘clarification?’ Can the CC work to just address those, versus potentially revamping a charter that was visited just ten years ago if memory serves me? I understand the head of the Rec Dept has also irked one particular alderman and that his neck is on the chopping block, too.