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Charter Revision Up For Vote

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

July 21, 2009

MEETING UPDATE: The city council has rejected a proposal to change its composition and expand its ranks from nine members to 13. The proposal was to have some of those 13 elected by districts. Follow our Tweets on the right side of this page. More to come. 7:02 p.m.


Some big questions are up for a vote at tonight's council meeting on the future of the city's charter -- particularly, whether to have a bigger city council that includes some members elected by districts.

But the entire council won't be there to handle the big questions -- with at least two out on vacation and a third uncertain.

So there will be no more than six of nine city councilors voting on the city's future, and it will take five of them to approve any changes to the city's charter. Because of scheduling foul-ups, this is the council's only chance to weigh in on months of work of the Hartford Charter Revision Commission.

"We'd probably be better off having recommendations dealth with in the spring or fall," said Councilman Matt Ritter.

You can read more about the proposed changes in prior Cityline posts. But, aside from the one that changes the council from nine at-large members to 13 members -- five district representatives, eight voted in at-large -- there are other changes.

The mayor would have the "absolute" power to appoint people to city commissions and boards, unless he neglected to. An ethics commission would be mandated by charter.

Any changes approved by the council would then be subject to a city-wide vote in the fall.

Richard Wareing, an attorney who is the chairman of the commission, said the council can vote up or down on the report as a whole -- or it can vote on individual recommendations one at a time.

The council can't, though, make changes that were not recommended by the commission, Wareing said.

The council had a chance to make comments that would have been considered by the commission, but it failed to meet the propre deadlines for doing so. As a result, the commission's draft report was made its final report -- without input from the council.

Tonight's meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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