There’s been a lot of talk lately about Northfield’s City Charter, and whether it needs changing.
A couple of months ago, we had Charter Commission Chair Peter Dahlen on our podcast. More recently, “thread drift” on Griff’s CVB feedback post has generated some interesting discussion, which warranted its own topic. In a recent comment there, David Koenig said,
How about posting the Northfield City Charter online in a special place and let us “Linux” it or “Wiki” it, or both?
There is no need for this to be anything official, but just an experiment to see what some creative minds might dream up in terms of a concept. May I suggest that we start from an assumption that the “new” Charter would have the objective of setting the framework for a Strong Mayor and requisite governance structure under such? (Someone else is free to start a similar intiative for a Manager version if they wish.)
LVW, Council Members, anyone who blogs on this site could suggest language, but let’s keep it in the public domain and not saddle it with any kind of officialdom and the inevitable baggage that would come with such.
Well, we’re not prepared to deal with the technical parts of setting up a wiki, but I’d be happy to provide a place to continue the discussion in the meantime. Griff proposed doing a community forum on this topic, which I think would be a great idea.
As a followup to David’s comment above, Kiffi Summa said, in part,
The first things that would have to be corrected in the Charter would be the parts that the Chart/Comm changed back at the time of the referendum (should NF change to a City Manager system of governance). In anticipation of that passing (the then Chart/Comm was so certain it would pass, and it did not) that there were a few things changed that somewhat weakened our previously strong Mayor into a “mini-Strong Mayor”.
For instance: I think it used to say “the Mayor will set the Agenda with the assistance of the City Administrator” ; and now I think it says “The Administrator will set the agenda with the Assistance of the Mayor”. It’s late, I’m tired, and I didn’t look it up … just going by memory … so I could be wrong. But that’s the sort of minor change that was made at the time, and now needs to be put back to the original language to enable a truly strong Mayoral system.
A few other commentors chimed in on the topic, among them Jane McWilliams, who indicated that the League of Women Voters might also be interested in a community forum.
One of the questions or half-baked thoughts I’ve had on my list of ideas to discuss is: What about the idea of going to four at-large councillors, rather than two at-large and four wards? Would a smaller council facilitate the need to develop better working relationships? I’ve never gotten the impression that the ward rep idea is all that beneficial in a community the size of Northfield.
So, let’s have at it! More thoughts, anyone?