By Bob Levinson
I am currently a member of the Charter Review Commission (CRC). Six years ago I unsuccessfully ran for a Freeholder position but followed the process closely. I was not completely satisfied with the 6-person council, felt it was too large for our small community but liked the idea of an independent County Executive. The independent County Executive; a professional to handle the every day management and administration of the County and the 6-person council to handle legislative matters. It has not worked out that way.
I can understand the extreme opposition from former Freeholders and the existing council for their stand against the changers recommended by the CRC. The Freeholders spent many long hours come to up with their recommendations it is hard to accept your ideas have not worked out. The existing council is also against the charter changes for basically the same reasons.
As much as I would have liked the original charter to work, after 6 years of its being in effect, I have to admit it has not and there is no guarantee that the County operations will change. Most successful business people have failed sometime in their lives, only to bounce back and become successful with a change of plans. We learn from our mistakes and move on.
We have to, as a County admit that our original idea for a Charter government has not worked as well as we hoped in some areas and make the needed changes.
What has not worked with the Charter is:
- A six person council is not needed in our small County Most counties in the state and country work well with a 3-person council. We are the __ smallest county in the state. With a 3-person council the entire county will have a vote for each position, not just 1 of 6.
- The County executive is a good idea, but not working in our county. The council did not allow the separation of powers to take place and has gotten involved in areas that should have been left to the executive.
- Council members meeting behind closed doors with staff.
- The county budget increased in six years from $30 to over $50 million.
- If the Charter was functioning properly why did Pete Rose leave the Island for a lesser paying position?
- Individual council members had 4 to 6 years to get the charter functioning as it should, and they haven’t Why should we now believe that they can or would function l within Charter rules?
Our County has worked fairly well for 150 years with a 3-person council. We are one of the smallest county in the state. Except for the larger counties most of the counties in the states, and for that matter, the country’s county’s operate with a 3 person council. Any governmental system has flaws, but as the last 6 years have shown us original charter has functioned properly and needs to be amended.
Any system depends upon the people who run the system; it is critical we elect people based on their qualifications, not on their ideology. Sometimes smaller is better. Please vote for the Charter amendments.