San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 25th, 2008
With scant public input, charter review commission finalizing its work

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

All three citizens who showed up at the city charter review commission’s public hearing Thursday said they just came to listen.

“Y’all made this easy,” commission chair Kathy Morris said and the session was adjourned by 5:40 p.m., ten minutes after it began and before the pizza delivery guy even arrived at City Hall.

Commission members had earlier in the afternoon finished combing through what amounts to the municipal government’s constitution, the panel’s fourth meeting since January. No one showed up to speak at the other meetings either.

Proposed changes in the current draft include a provision that would require a one-year residency before running for city council. The current charter allows residents of recently annexed neighborhoods to run. Another proposed change would require the city council to set their own compensation, currently set in the charter at $50 per twice-monthly meeting.

As mandated by the charter itself, the charter review commission is appointed every two years by the city council to update the document and recommend changes. Then the city council decides which proposed amendments to put on the ballot for voter consideration in November.

The apparent disinterest in the process so far contrasts with two years ago. The commission’s recommendations then included a proposed amendment that would have raised the minimum age for running for city council from 18 to 21, a proposal widely seen as a dig at council member Chris Jones who six months earlier became the first Texas State University student to win a council seat in more than three decades. That the group was chaired by Jones’ bested opponent, Moe Johnson, did not undermine the perception.

“People who are 18 can enter into contracts, they can get married and they can join the military without their parents’ permission,” then-council member Ed Mihalkanin said. “If people don’t want a council member who is 19, they don’t have to vote for a candidate who is 19.”

The council ultimately decided to keep the incendiary issue off the ballot after a dramatic late-hour meeting during which three votes yielded three different outcomes. (It could accurately be said afterward that more than one council member voted against it before they voted for it and then voted against it again.)

This time around, however, the age qualification issue “never came up,” Morris said.

The commission will vote on a final report at their last meeting May 22. In addition to Morris, the commission is composed of vice chair Arthur Taylor, Scott Cook, Bucky Couch, Sam McCabe, Sam Montoya and Bill Taylor.

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One thought on “With scant public input, charter review commission finalizing its work

  1. Pingback: Residents of recently annexed neighborhoods would not qualify for mayor, council under proposed changes | San Marcos Mercury

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