Monday, May 11, 2009
On Tuesday May 12th nominating petitions for candidates for the Charter Revision Commission must be turned in and the tough work of campaigning for the office will begin. Detroiters should think long and hard about whom they want sitting at the table: representing them, listening to their testimony and then debating and documenting the finer points of city government structure. Charter Commissioners should be legal and policy experts who can rationally evaluate government structures. The last time Detroit had a Charter Revision Commission, from 1994-1997, Commissioners were paid $75 per meeting for up to 100 meetings over the course of 3 years. That is a maximum of $7500 for three years of meetings, not counting many more hours reading, researching and preparing for each of those meetings. Its not glamorous or well-paying work, but it is very important work that can create permanent and positive change for Detroit, if it is done well. The Charter is the document that creates the structure of our local government. When creating a government, people make the most fundamental decisions, how much power should they grant to the government to act on their behalf and what are the limits and protections against abuses of that power? Detroit's current style of government is known as a "strong mayor" system with an at-large city council. Over the next six months, we hope that you will use this blog to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Detroit's current system and to get to know the candidates who are running to serve Detroit on the Charter Revision Commission.