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Believes charter committee legally constituted


June 08, 2005 - To the editor:

The Crestwood City Charter requires as a matter of law that the mayor and Board of Aldermen provide for a Charter Review Committee to consider whether or not any amendments to the charter are appropriate.

The purpose of this provision is to ensure that from time to time the citizens of the city are given the opportunity to revisit their charter, and consider amendments as they deem necessary. Without this provision, the mayor and the aldermen would be under no obligation to create such an opportunity.

If the charter language had been left only to require the city officials to convene such a committee from time to time, those officials would not be legally bound to form such a committee except at their sole discretion. They could form such a committee as often or as infrequently as they deemed necessary.

For that matter, they would have no legal compulsion ever to create such a committee.

For this reason, this provision of the charter goes on to require that the mayor and board convene such a committee "not less than every 10 years.'' The provision en-sures that at least every 10 years the mayor and board are required by law to form a committee of appointed citizens for the purpose of reviewing the charter and proposing amendments as they deem appropriate.

In accordance with this requirement, a citizens' committee has been appointed and has been diligently at work conducting the people's business for many months.

Now through the misguided and misinformed efforts of a few, the continued efforts of this committee are in doubt.

This challenge is based upon the assertion that "not less than every 10 years" means the mayor and board shall not appoint a committee more frequently than every 10 years. By this interpretation, the mayor and board would not be compelled to form a citizens' committee ever. They could choose to convene a committee in 10 years, or 20 years, or 30 years, or never. Clearly this is not the meaning of the charter's language.

Finally, this interpretation would also mean that the city officials would be prohibited in forming a citizens' committee even in the face of a compelling need if 10 years had not passed since the last such convention. How absurd.

I suppose the democratic process re-quires our elected officials to suffer the foolish ideas of eccentric citizens and the poorly reasoned opinions of fellow elected officials. However, good governance also requires that foolish ideas, eccentrics and faulty reasoning be given their fast dismissal, and not be allowed to interfere with the serious business of the city. The city of Crestwood is in dire straits. It desperately needs a well-informed and re-sponsible citizenry, as well as elected officials who are willing to suffer what foolishness they must, but then move on and do what they believe is in the best interest of the city and its citizens.

I would urge the mayor to take the lead by publicly stating his support for the existing committee and that the Board of Aldermen act immediately to restore the credibility of the existing committee by unanimously reaffirming their delegation of responsibility to the fine citizens who have sacrificed their time and efforts these many months.

Steve Harms

Crestwood

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