Charter Commision gets nod to proceed – State approves review of Everett’s system of government

The City’s Charter Study Commission now is official in the eyes of the State.  After hitting a roadblock, City and State elected officials acted swiftly to remedy the problem and keep the process moving forward.  “We’ve been working right along and this act by the Commonwealth removes a major hurdle that threatened to slow or even stop our progress,” commission Chairman Paul Schlosberg said on Friday.

In late June the Legislature approved a home rule petition on the matter, and on July 9 Governor Deval L. Patrick signed a special act that authorizes the nine-member board to do a valid review of the form of government and recommend changes, Schlosberg said.  The state’s approval means the committee is duly authorized to take votes when it reaches the point of making form-of-government recommendations, following a public hearing planned for October 13.

The charter review activity has been ongoing on since Everett voters approved two ballot questions in November 2009, but a problem arose in February 2010.  At that time, when a state official advised that prescribed signature gathering procedures for forming for a charter commissions had not been followed in Everett, commission leaders sought guidance on correcting the process and identified the home-rule petition as the best route to follow.

In May, Alderman President Attorney Robert J. Van Campen championed the needed legislation within Everett’s City Council. Then in recent weeks, State Representative Stephen Stat Smith, D-Everett, State Senator Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett and Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. were instrumental in filing the special act and getting it ratified.

Schlosberg noted that in November, voters overwhelmingly endorsed ballot questions establishing the charter study committee and electing nine members to the board.

The review is the first ever-comprehensive evaluation of the 118-year-old city charter.

Creating a unicameral, single branch city council, expanding the mayor’s term from two years to four and revamping how municipal finances are handled are among possible changes charter commission members have discussed. Everett is the only municipality in the United States that is governed by a bicameral, two branch city council.

The commission will meet in Hearing Room B in City Hall at 6:30 p.m. from September through December 2010 on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

The next public hearing will be held on Wednesday, October 13 at 7 p.m., where citizens will have the opportunity to comment on changes. The question on changing the charter will be on the ballot in the next city election in November 2011.

The following citizens were elected to the Everett Charter Commission: Michael J. Bono, John F. Hanlon, Joseph F. Hickey, Alfred J.F. Lattanzi, Jason Marcus, Dorothy Martin Long, Robert E. Sansone, Bennie P. Schiavo and Paul Schlosberg.

The commission has retained the services of the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston, represented by charter development expert Stephen McGoldrick to help guide them in this effort.

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