Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Amendments To Go to Voters
By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
City councilors agreed unanimously late Monday to override the mayor's veto and send a package of proposed City Charter amendments to voters this fall.
The amendments would make it easier for councilors and the mayor to get pay raises, create more independence for the city clerk and city attorney, and establish a conference committee to help settle disputes between the executive and legislative branches of City Hall. The amendments, 10 in all, will be presented as separate questions on the Oct. 6 ballot.
Mayor Martin Chávez vetoed the bill earlier this summer. He said the proposal to create an independent salary commission was an "end run" around the public having a direct vote on officials' salaries. He also objected to amendments that would make it harder for the mayor to hire and fire the city clerk and attorney, saying they would weaken the executive branch.
But councilors on Monday weren't convinced. They originally passed the charter amendments on a 6-3 vote in June. For the veto override, however, three councilors who had originally voted against the bill Sally Mayer, Trudy Jones and Debbie O'Malley supported it this time.
"I did hear from my constituents that they want to vote on this," Mayer said.
Jones pointed out that voters can pick and choose which amendments to support, unlike councilors and the mayor, who had to decide on the amendments as one package because they were contained within one bill. She also urged voters to read the whole amendments, not just the short summaries that will appear on the ballot.
Several councilors pointed out that they won't be eligible for pay raises immediately. If the salary commission were to raise council salaries, they wouldn't take effect until the start of the next term, meaning the councilors would have to win re-election before getting the pay.