FROM TERRY BANKERT-
TO FLINT COMMUNITY 03/03/12
Because I thought it was the right thing to do I have been advocating a formal review of our Flint City Charter for the last year. But now is the time for the community through its leadership to decide on this issue.
I have listened to my friends and I now agree. I can not take the Charter Revision issue any closer to a reality than I have to date. The Flint traditional leadership must embrace it or the issue will go away. My role was simply to sound the call to action. I have no tribe or coin and therefore cannot mobilize a...ction. But you leaders in Churches, Unions, Neighborhoods, agencies, elected officials and those with the strong voice of opinion leaders can.
The City Charter has not been formally reviewed since 1974, we have suffered two receivership/emergency managers under it. I offer it, CHARTER REVISION, as an option, a choice, a consideration to you Leaders of Flint Michigan. Let me know how I can help your efforts. "In the beginning of a change,the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."(Mark Twain,Notebook 1935) Community leaders are asked to step forward and take a leadership/patriotic role in the Flint Charter Revision debate pro or con.
Thank you to Flint Council people and other organizers of the 9 City Ward Emergency Manager meetings just completed. Manager Brown it was the right thing to do. Thank you also. In the rough road to Flint Financial solvency that follows we hope you regularly report to our community your progress.
I attended all nine ward meetings. Aside from the 10 or so great regular speakers I saw 100 or more solid Flint citizens at each. People I do not regularly see at community events. The heart and soul of the Flint Community attended to show their concern for their city. To show concern for the humiliation of a state take over. To show concern for the safety of their family in this Flint City. Public safety and financial stability to pay for it is our number one concern. City Manager Mike Brown you are here to solve the problems of financial irresponsibility caused by our elected leaders present and past. Many feel that we must also plan for a future of financial responsibility.
We must review how financial decisions are made in Flint as authorized in a city charter. A formal review of our city charter demands the election of 9 Flint Charter Commissioners to do this duty for us and report back to us directly the voters of Flint. Its time for Flint Citizens to take our city back from chaos. Our current city charter has not been formally reviewed by citizens since 1974 and has allowed us to suffer two State of Michigan take overs of Flint.
At this last ward meeting I heard three speaker talk of the need for Charter revision. One was You Emergency Manager Michael Brown. You even said a Flint Charter Commission was needed. The only way that body can exist is by a vote of the people to create the Commission and a vote to elect nine good Flint Citizens to serve on it.
The emergency manager under statute assumes the powers of a City Council. He can , as a city council is allowed under statute, order the Flint City Clerk to open up the nomination process, 2000 petition signatures, to place names on the August Ballot for Flint charter Commission. The nine top vote getters city wide will be elected to a Flint Charter Commission. Also on the ballot would be a yes or no question do you the citizens of Flint want a General Revision of our 1974 City Charter. If the yes vote prevails the nine top vote getters are your Flint Charter Commission. Flint Emergency Manager Brown putting these questions on the August Ballot in 2012 is the right thing to do. Mike the ball is in your court.
Another option is for the community to force the election of a charter commission. You could help that effort by circulating petitions. Mr. Brown nor the Mayor or Council cant stop it. It is a lot of work. A citizens petition could only cause a yes or no option to voters on whether or not the voters want a general charter revision. If yes the nomination process must be opened up to all voters who have resided in the city for three years.
That nominating process is for you to collect several thousand signatures on a petition nominating you. This will be followed by an election where the top nine win seats , possibly by ward (this is being researched), on the Flint Charter Commission. That commission meets for a time they determine then makes a recommendation which is sent to the Flint City Clerk. The Clerk must then place that recommendation on the ballot at the next regular election. The voters have a yes or no option. If it is yes then the charter is changed. The voters control this process, Mr. Brown, the Mayor nor the council have to approve it nor can they stop it. The commission can recommend small changes like returning city council seats back to 2 years from 4 and no longer paying them salary .
The commission could recommend the creation of a police commission as a multiple member body to give citizens a direct voice in their public safety as an example. The Commission could also recommend big changes like eliminating the office of Mayor and changing Flint into a City Manager form of Government. The master planning process could be continued. The ombudsman could be given increased powers to go to court to force compliance with the Flint Charter. Did you know the current charter calls for the appointment of a legislative body auditor. No council has done this.
We may not have been in receivership twice under this charter if this provision had been complied with. Nine good people could revamp our charter giving us a better charter that would force Flint elected officials to be fiscally responsible and our public safety number one. Why not have a commission make a formal review of a charter that has been in existence since 1974 with the city going into receivership twice. Flint Citizens the ball really is in your court, Brown could speed up the process. Why not?