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Former Crestwood mayor unanimously elected chairman of Charter Review Committee


February 23, 2005 - By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

Former Crestwood Mayor Jim Brasfield will serve as chairman of the city's Charter Review Committee.

During their first meeting last week, Charter Review Committee members voted unanimously to elect Brasfield chairman. Brasfield served as the city's mayor from 1996 to 2002. Before being elected mayor, he served as a Ward 1 alderman since 1978.

Committee members also voted unanimously to name Pat Kapsar as the panel's vice chairman. Kapsar, a longtime city volunteer, also serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Besides Brasfield of Ward 1 and Kapsar of Ward 4, other committee members are: Rich Bland of Ward 1; David Brophy and John Bell, both of Ward 2; former Alderman Bernie Alex-ander and Carol Wagner, both of Ward 3; and Jerry Bratsch of Ward 4. Kevin King is an at-large member of the committee, while Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe is the aldermanic representative.

The City Charter, first approved by voters on Nov. 7, 1995, states, "From time to time, but not less than every 10 years, the mayor and Board of Aldermen shall provide for a Charter Review Committee to consider whether any amendments to this charter are appropriate.''

At the Feb. 15 meeting, City Administra-tor Don Greer said, "... The charter requires that no less than every 10 years that the mayor and the Board of Aldermen establish a Charter Review Committee ... One of the things that we do quite frequently as the staff and in particular in anticipation of what we are beginning tonight is take a review ourselves internally and see what works, what doesn't work, have we had any issues or insurmountable problems or things like that, in fact, we could report to the board.

"And certainly, as residents, I'm sure you're all quite keenly aware of all of the things that we've been through in the last three or four years anyway and we have found or we have felt very strongly that the charter has stood up to the test of time. And we've changed the fiscal year,'' Greer said, referring to the change to a calendar fiscal year instead of the previous fiscal year that ran from July 1 to June 30.

"That was a major undertaking, but the charter allowed us to do that by ordinance ... We had an elected official resign. There was a method and manner for finishing that term and for the election and for certifying that and going forward and moving forward so that the city didn't really lose a beat or didn't really lose a step in its management or its function and certainly in its legislative process,'' Greer said.

"I'm not sure what a Charter Review Committee does. We've looked at a number of charters from other cities and found that this was somewhat unique in that there's a provision in our charter that has a Charter Review Committee,'' Greer said. "A lot of charters don't even have that. I think that speaks very well to that group of people who put the charter together to begin with because it's I think rather intriguing and certainly looks forward in terms of the relationship I think the charter has with the way we govern in the city of Crestwood.''

Under the provisions of the charter, the committee has up to 12 months to complete its work and submit any proposed amendments it deems necessary to the Board of Aldermen, Greer noted.

"The Board of Aldermen shall by ordinance submit such proposed amendments to the voters at the next general election,'' the charter states.

Greer said he would provide the committee with any information it desires.

Brasfield asked, "Was it your plan to attend all of our meetings or have someone on the staff attend the meetings?''

Greer replied, "It was my plan to not attend all of these meetings unless you asked me to be here. If you ask me to be here, I certainly will be here ...''

The city administrator later elaborated, saying, "... From my perspective, if this is an independent review of the manner in which the city manages itself and holds itself accountable, too much influence, too much history and expectation from staff I think is contrary to the purpose that you're here for. There's a couple things in there that I don't like in the charter ... but you know what? It doesn't matter that I don't like them. I'm one vote out of 11,863.''

Greer said he would be more than willing to make city staff available if commission members wanted to question them about specific provisions of the charter.

The charter has served the city well, he said, noting, "When I was looking at the charter itself in terms of preparing to speak with you, I was quite impressed with how flexible and fluid it's been, while very clearly defining the parameters that we work within, so. That doesn't mean there aren't things that could be different or could be changed ....''

King later said, "... I'm not asking you to do this, but it's just a suggestion or just to throw this out as food for thought. Might it be better in order to help us perform an agenda would be to have the people that have actually had to deal with the charter in terms of its application, yourself, other members of the staff, council members, other people that have an interest in this, make suggestions as — not suggestions as to what they would like changed — but in order to avoid feeling like you're treading on our authority, just say these are the areas that we would like you to look at? Could you review this? Could you review that? And that at least would give us a basis for an agenda ... If there's areas that need addressing, then personally unless the other members of the commission feel differently, I would like some guidance in that regard ...''

Brasfield later said, "I think, unless people weigh in differently, I think that probably some of the things that Kevin was saying make sense and that is that despite your commendable reluctance to jump right in and give us an agenda, I think that both you and the city attorney and perhaps you ask your staff people as well to give us not so much — because we might come back and ask you for a specific in an area, how would you like this changed — but I think for openers rather than saying to us what you would want to see changed, if you could simply point us to a couple of areas ... just to let us know an area and say this is something that we think you should be sure to take a close look at ... Or perhaps even we think you should take a close look at this because this has caused certain kinds of problems or we think this might cause certain kinds of problems. And then that will give us a place to start rather than us just trying to go through line by line and having us try to figure out what might problematic.

"So I think if you could give us some of those ideas before our next meeting and then that could be a starting point for our next meeting,'' he said.

The committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, at City Hall, 1 Detjen Drive.

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