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Saratoga Springs mayor offers to set up charter commission

Change advocates assail last-minute offer

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Mayor Scott Johnson will release plans to establish a charter commission this weekend, saying it will give city voters an alternative to changing the city’s commission form of government. The mayor’s action comes just three days before city residents will vote on the charter change. The charter change proposition — asking voters if they want to change the city’s government from the current commission form to a city manager/city council form — will be on ...

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November 4, 2012
10:40 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

The mayor's tactic does not change anything - the vote for the new charter is still on.

The proposed charter, establishing a council-manager form of government for our city, is being proposed by people who understand the profound weaknesses of our current commission system. The purpose of the effort, undertaken with so much energy and dedication by so many civic-minded Saratogians, is to improve the effectiveness of the elected city council, to consolidate city operations from 5 departments into one, and thereby to improve city services and decrease the costs of government. It’s as simple as that. It will work, and it will be better than the current system on all counts.
No amount of tinkering with the current system can possibly work. It would be an unfortunate mistake for anyone to put faith in the mayor’s charter commission. Since the mayor opposes change and controls all the appointments, the result will be a charter commission that is less democratic than the open process undertaken to produce the new charter. It will assure that we will see a few modifications to the commission system, without touching its major structural flaws.
The 2001 commission has already done all that is possible without changing the system. The charter was amended in several places, yet few of the changes have been implemented. As those intimately involved in the effort will tell you, it didn’t work, because it can’t work. No one is in charge, elected department heads do what they want, so accountability goes begging. There is only one rational thing to do. Replace the commission system, like hundreds of cities across the country, and implement the council-manager system.