• July 31, 2014

Killeen holds first charter hearing

Residents express views on districts, terms

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Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013 4:30 am

As several residents and the Killeen City Council debated changes to the city charter during Thursday’s public hearing, much of the discussion was filled with Mayor Dan Corbin’s refrain, “Let the people decide.”

A proposed ballot initiative for the planned May charter election, initiated by Corbin, would allow voters to decide whether to keep the single-member district system residents chose in 2005 or return to an all at-large elected council.

“We ought to ask the people if this has been working or not,” Corbin said.

Single-member districts were popular with local minority groups during the charter proceedings in 2005, because they provide specific council members to represent specific sections of the city, avoiding potential disenfranchisement.

However, because of the restrictions the system imposes on who can vote in district elections, single-member districts have drawn criticism from residents in recent years.

“We have heard all of the numbers about low voter turnout but I feel, and the NAACP feels, the problem is not the single-member districts; the problem is engaging and empowering citizens,” said TaNeika Driver, president of the Killeen branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

‘Less engagement’

Corbin said he has heard mostly from residents who claim that they have less say in their government since the single-member districts were adopted in 2005.

“I see less engagement,” Corbin said.

Driver said she thought that the only impetus for a transition away from single-member districts was the problems it caused during the 2011 recall, when city staff had to decide who could sign petitions for district council members.

For Driver, the problem was not enough to scrap the whole system.

“I feel like the reason the issue came up was because of the recall. If the council does what they are supposed to do, we won’t have to go down that road again,” Driver said.

Driver, along with former Councilwoman Claudia Brown and former Councilman Kenny Wells, also spoke against a proposed amendment that would allow council members to decide their own compensation through a city ordinance process.

Council compensation

According to the city charter as written, council members may not be paid more than $100 per month, and the mayor may not be paid more than $200 per month.

All changes to the charter, including council member compensation, require voter approval.

Under the proposed amendment, council members would be able to approve an ordinance, through an internal vote, to change their compensation.

“I am adamantly opposed to (the proposal). That is a license to steal,” Wells said.

Wells, whose grandfather served on the council that adopted the original city charter in 1949, advised restraint as the city moved forward with the almost 100 proposed changes.

“I am concerned with what we are doing with the charter and how the voters are going to understand all of the changes,” Wells said. “I think the charter has withstood the test of time.”

Additional proposals brought back into the discussion Thursday were the extension of council terms from two years to three years and basing the number of signatures required to call a recall election on registered voters rather than a percentage of those who participated in past elections.

The next public hearing on the city charter will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 101 N. College St.

All of the proposed deletions, additions and revisions to the city charter can be found at www.killeentexas.gov.

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Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Viktor posted at 5:04 pm on Sat, Jan 5, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 316

    Let the people decied? Sure. With the traditional low voter turn out this mayor is bound to get favorable results. Compensation for council? Not if city's key players can help it. They don't want anyone messing with the age old system of getting their friends in office. If council worked for a better salary then imagine all the commoners that could afford to line up to run for the city elections. No sense in skewing the makeup of council to where people might get elected that go on to represent interests for the greater good instead of catering to local business pals.

     
  • Eliza posted at 8:53 am on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 654

    @ Single-member districts were popular with local minority groups during the charter proceedings in 2005, because they provide specific council members to represent specific sections of the city, avoiding potential disenfranchisement.

    @ We have heard all of the numbers about low voter turnout but I feel, and the NAACP feels, the problem is not the single-member districts; the problem is engaging and empowering citizens,” said TaNeika Driver, president of the Killeen branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
    ------------

    But if its seem logically -

    Instead of having more involvement in the say of city politics -The voters who can only vote in certain areas have had their hands tied by whoever came up with the idea of single districts and wants it to remain in effect.

    What a few of these idea people have been allowed to do, is allow any voter who lives in a district to have only so much say about their government and others to have no say at all in the total number of decision makers.

    It shouldn't be what the NAACP would think, No org. should have the say or influence over voters, Voting is a free thinking process in the country. It should be what each citizen/voter thinks and who they want to choose.

    I trust the citizens can think for themselves and I would hope the NAACP would like to allow that to happen by seeing the fairness of encouraging any citizen/voter in the city to have the right to vote for any candidate who would be running for any city office.

    By anyone subduing them from that right , its taking away one of the greatest benefits an American citizen has. It would be the same as we have saw in 'foreign' country's where a citizen is told who they will vote for,even if they will vote for anyone,
    Bad business, Old school Boss Hogg politics, Bad idea from whomever thought it up


    -----------------


    @ Council compensation
    According to the city charter as written, council members may not be paid more than $100 per month, and the mayor may not be paid more than $200 per month.
    All changes to the charter, including council member compensation, require voter approval.
    ------------

    I would think no-one should be allowed to vote themselves any kind of pay increase from public money.

    We have saw how the public has reacted when our 'leaders' in Washington have done the same thing,the last time with in the last couple of weeks,Thought up and approved by the president. Even though the country's people are told there is No Money for Nothing.---

    However I have observed many of the council meetings and know of the duties being a council person can contain. It isn't as easy as some would think. There is a lot to learn, It is deserving of a fair compensation.
    The amount paid now is on the low end of what many councils are paid to do the duties of a council person.

    I believe the mayor has done a good job,he is learned in the world of government and I see him as having from what I've observed, doing a much better job then leaders of other councils have done. I've seen him if something is not a for sure fact, no matter who has been in charge of the job ,not hesitating to ask the question of why not.

    The people need someone who has the knowledge to question all purposed facts.

    If there has been no raise in the compensation for a number of years,I would see nothing wrong personally in doubling the monthly salary for all, to be looked at every 5 years to see if a change is due.

    I believe the council and mayor do deserve a fair raise but not to be voted on by themselves.

    The people have to always have a say in their government when its involving their money.