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BE Charter Commission looks at mayor’s power to appoint chief

By Staff | Dec 25, 2011

The Blue Earth Charter Commission revisited some past issues – such as eliminating the ward system – and addressed a new one involving the power of the mayor to appoint a police chief.

The commission, however, only passed one motion.

After some debate, the members voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council that the percentage of yes votes needed to pass a change to the charter be increased.

Currently a simple majority of those voting on a proposed change is required. The commission wants that increased to a two-thirds majority.

The commission also addressed the confusion as to ‘under-votes’ counting as no votes on a charter change, and felt only actual no votes should be counted.

Commission member Mike Enger questioned the language giving the mayor the power to appoint subordinate officers. He also questioned the difference between the City Code and the City Charter when it comes to appointing officers.

“The two appear to be in conflict,” Enger says. “One says the mayor appoints, the other names the council.

City attorney David Frundt agreed and says the charter takes precedence, so the code needs to be changed by the council.

The Charter Commission did not take any action at this time on the language in the charter dealing with the mayor’s ability to choose and appoint a police chief.

Blue Earth resident and City Council member Rick Scholtes was at Wednesday night’s meeting to request that a proposal to change the language in the charter concerning wards be sent directly to this fall’s election ballot.

Scholtes says the change would keep the wards as simple voting precincts, but City Council members would be elected at-large from all city residents.

Commission member B.J. Weness says his position on the wards has not changed – he wants to keep them in place as is.

After some debate, Commission member Glenn Gaylord made a motion to put the matter on the ballot.

A vote on the motion was tabled until a decision is made on the percentage of votes needed for a charter change.

In other matters, commission members Gary Armon, Gary Agren, Frankie Bly and David Classon were all reappointed to the commission.

The commission voted to keep Classon as chairman.

Tim Juba was appointed to take the place on the commission formerly held by John Sawyer.

Juba’s appointment needs to be confirmed by the District Court judge.