Finding the summary put out by the city of these charter changes is pretty easy- although it’s not in HTML format- just a PDF:
The summary makes it all seem nice and easy.
The current Dayton Charter is here: http://www.daytonohio.gov/cco/Documents/DaytonCityCharter.pdf but not accessible to me at this time (luckily I already had a copy of the charter).
However, the ballot language is a mangled mess- and not easily available. Several people have contacted me already to ask “what is this all about.” I attended one of the meetings of the committee, which was handpicked by the powers that be- to be as non-representative of the citizens of Dayton as possible. Looking around the room, you’d think the unions run the city (they still think they do- hand in hand with the politicos).
If you go here: http://www.voterfind.com/montgomeryoh/ballotlist.aspx the BOE will let you look at a sample ballot in advance.
The language is overly verbose- and not accessible to copy and paste easily into this site. Issue by issue- here is the synopsis.
Issue 13 should be voted for. It changes the requirements for number of signatures required to propose changes or overturn votes by the city commission to a reasonable number. The existing charter language depended on a percentage of registered voters- which had zero connection to the numbers of existing voters- setting the bar too high to be attainable.
Once issue 13 is passed, we, the voters, may be able to change the requirements for recalling commissioners or the required numbers of signatures on obsolete petitions- something this committee refused to address.
Issue 14 should be voted for. The Dayton budget and compensation rules are arcane and obtuse. Not that a ton of progress is being made in the way we spend and track our money (we had an employee in the law department stealing considerable sums despite our current rules).
Issue 15 should be voted for. The current charter has a bunch of really antiquated rules- that need to go. This issue takes care of that.
Issue 16 is the one where we should really look twice.
Currently section 2 of the Charter is short and sweet:
Sec. 2. [Enumeration of Powers.]
The enumeration of particular powers by this Charter shall not be held or deemed to be exclusive, but, in addition to the powers enumerated herein, implied thereby or appropriate to the exercise thereof, the city shall have, and may exercise, all other powers which, under the constitution and laws of Ohio, it would be competent for this Charter specifically to enumerate.
They want to change it to:
Sec. 2 Powers of the City
The city shall have all powers of local self-government possible for a city to have under the constitution and laws of the state of Ohio as fully and completely as though they were specifically enumerated in this Charter.
A. The powers of the city under this Charter shall be construed liberally in favor of the city, and the specific mention of particular powers in the Charter shall not be construed as limiting in any way the general power granted in this article.
B. The city may participate by contract or otherwise with any governmental entity of this state or any other state or states of the United States in the performance of any activity which one or more such entities has the authority to undertake.
C. All powers of the city shall be vested in the Commission, except as otherwise provided by law or this Charter, and the Commission shall provide for the exercise thereof and the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law.
D. The City Manager shall be the chief executive officer of the city, responsible to the Commission for the management of all city affairs placed in the manager’s charge by law or this Charter.
E. The Commission may elect to operate under state municipal law in lieu of the provisions of this Charter or §171 thereof pertaining to limitations on the manner, form, or uses of taxes, fees, assessments, and other revenue sources. However, any such measure shall clearly state this intent, may not be passed by emergency legislation and shall require four votes for passage.
On this one, I’m asking for your help in figuring it out. The city explanation of all this legalese is:
Issue 16: Powers of the City
Dayton is referred to as the first city to adopt the City Manager form of government. The 1914 Charter was new ground and the writers tried to ensure Dayton would have broad powers to serve its citizens. But they could not have guessed what might happen 80, 90, or 100 years later and now Dayton is hampered by that 1914 language. Today, the Ohio General Assembly is making changes in how cities operate and Dayton needs to have all the powers that other cities and villages are given.
This does not change the way the City of Dayton operates. We will still have a City Manager form of government and the members of the Commission will still be elected in the same way and represent the entire city. This is designed to ensure that Dayton has the maximum flexibility to respond to a changing environment.
Dayton has to fight hard to attract businesses, residents and amenities; we can’t afford to have one hand tied behind our back by archaic language. With the serious conversations being held about the State changing municipal income taxes, Dayton has to be able to respond immediately to potentially devastating changes in the law. This Charter change provides us with the same flexibility every other city has. (Section 2)
The line “Dayton has to fight hard to attract businesses, residents and amenities; we can’t afford to have one hand tied behind our back by archaic language.” makes me not want to vote for this change. I’ve already seen how our lovely commission believes it’s ok to hand over millions to a private developer- IRG getting the Emery/UPS building at the airport- which they scrapped and profited from, or the deal to give GE, one of the nation’s largest tax avoidance companies get a 30-year tax abatement in the “name of economic development.”
Since Nan Whaley appointed herself queen, we got shafted with a street light assessment, we voted to make a temporary tax permanent, and we watched property values plummet.
At this point, I’m inclined to vote no. I don’t trust the commission to be allowed to pick and choose which State laws benefit them most (remember, State law is mostly formulated by our Republican leadership these days).
Let’s stick with the Charter we have on this- just to show them they need to do a better job of informing us of proposed changes in advance. So YES, YES, YES, NO is my current suggestion.