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Comments on the Executive Agenda Part 1


City of ClarksvilleClarksville, TN – I had mentioned that I had a couple of comments on some topics to provide for your info and consideration. The first topic is Resolution 29.

The resolution basically calls for “A Resolution Requesting The Tennessee General Assembly To Enact Legislation To Amend The Official Charter Of The City Of Clarksville Relative To Conflict Of Interest”. The section in question is to be deleted.

The part of the Charter being referred to is Part I; Article IV Organization and Personnel; Section 12 – Officers and employees not to profit from connections with the city.  It states:

“No officer or employee of the city shall profit personally, directly or indirectly, from any contract, purchase, sale, or service, between the city government and any person or company.”

Citizens who are appointed to any committee position sponsored by the city are considered officers. The city charter has had this requirement for decades. Back in early 2007, the city council passed a new ethics ordinance which does a better job of describing what is right and wrong and would be a better tool than the charter version. However, there are several issues to be considered in this request.

First, some of those who do business with the city have been resigning from a number of committees and boards due to the “enlightenment” of the city on the charter requirement. In checking around with members of some of these boards and committees there are those that have stepped down due to worry over this charter section. The strictest interpretation of the charter section that if you are on a board/committee you somehow gain something from it.

If it is a matter of choosing between doing business with the city and making money from it or being on a city board, they will keep doing business and drop the boards and committees. From a business consideration it is a “no-brainer” and understandable. However, it seems some have also used this as rationale to just get off these boards and committees due to dissatisfaction with how the city has operated with these functions and the “politics” being experienced. So it seems that not everyone is leaving due to being strictly concerned over the lost business aspect.

Second, it seems the city continually seeks the services of the same group(s) of people over and over again on these boards and committees. Part of this is due to these people having the interest, willingness and time to work on these committees and serve their community. So they are a known source of wanting to be involved and have knowledge of the many facets that make this city tick and operate.

Also city leadership, whether this mayor or past mayors, seems to have relationships it is comfortable with and tends to reuse those same individuals again and again. However, this comfort zone also limits the city in looking outside of these groups/individuals and finding other citizens who are willing to be involved and have skill sets that could be of great value to the city. I ran into this with the recent modification of the CDE Board by recommending that a citizen with an engineering or telecom background would be an asset on that board.

You would have thought I had suggested that a Martian with two heads be seated on that board. It was suggested that the city wouldn’t even know where to look for such a person (I was amazed at that response as I personally know over two dozen people that meet that background). In another example, I had a citizen that offered and wanted to be involved with city needs by being a member of the Airport Authority board. This individual (who had not been on any other city board or committee) had retired from the military, been involved in military flight operations during his career, was highly educated and a known hard worker on any project he was involved with. Yet, we can’t seem to appoint that person to a board. The bottom line is out of a city with 133,000 citizens don’t tell me we can’t find people that have no business connections with the city to sit on these board and committees.

Third, to list this as the top issue that needs to be changed in the current out-of-date charter is illogical.  We have many issues within the charter of a more serious nature that are no longer legal due to changes in state law or we have city ordinances that do not directly reflect what the charter states.

The most recent effort to revise the city charter (round three) has been at a standstill since the last meeting the mayor chaired on August 30th.  As you recall the mayor (due to not being happy at the recommendations the charter committee was formulating and proposing) decided to reconstitute the committee with the local state representatives being active participants and having the full council as members.

In that August meeting our local state representatives made it clear that they did not want to sit in on all the meetings of the charter committee for fear that it would appear they were writing the revised charter.  However, having said they did not want to appear as having written the revised charter, it was made clear that certain changes or the lack of certain changes would affect their support and that of the state committee.  Also, only a couple of other council members attended beyond the usual committee members.  So nothing is being accomplished on an outdated document that directs how this city is to operate.

The bottom line to all of this is I will NOT support any band-aid fix to the current charter. We need to get the charter revision committee back in operation, make ALL needed changes and get a totally revised document approved. It is my opinion that this requested change is not as important as other needed changes in the charter.

As a side note you may find it interesting that the proposed charter and the version we were working on in round three had eliminated this problem in the current charter. If you go to Charter Revisions  you will see the last full version of the proposed new charter. Refer to Article VI: Organization and Personnel; Section 7. Ethics Policy. If we had stayed on track back in August, we would have a revised version of the charter ready to go now instead of trying to fix one very small section of a badly outdated city charter.

I have some comments on the section in New Business related to efforts to provide stoplights and better traffic control at Exit 11 that I will write later.

Editor’s Note: This article contains the view points of Councilman Bill Summers and may not represent the views of the rest of the City Council, the City of Clarksville or ClarksvilleOnline.

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