ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

No action taken: Proposal to trim City Charter recall rules dominates council discussion

WILLMAR -- Discussion about eliminating language in the Willmar City Charter that prohibits recall committee members from accepting payment for their services dominated City Council consideration of three proposed charter amendments at the counci...

WILLMAR - Discussion about eliminating language in the Willmar City Charter that prohibits recall committee members from accepting payment for their services dominated City Council consideration of three proposed charter amendments at the council’s recent meeting. No action was taken on the three amendments.
The Charter Commission, which is charged with reviewing and possibly recommending amendments to what’s also called the city’s “constitution,’’ is proposing the City Council eliminate some language from the recall provision in Section 7.05.
The language proposed to be eliminated states: “None of the members of such committee shall accept any remuneration for the services performed on such committee, but the committee and its members shall be entitled to be reimbursed for and to expend a reasonable amount of money for legal services, supplies, printing and notarial fees.’’
The council held a public hearing Dec. 21 on this and the other two amendments, but no one from the public spoke.
Councilman Denis Anderson clarified that approval of charter amendments by the council requires affirmative votes from all eight council members. Since one council member, Shawn Mueske, was absent, no vote was taken.
City Clerk Kevin Halliday said the council has 30 days in which to act on the amendments. Everyone agreed to receive the Dec. 21 discussion as information, and to wait until the Jan. 18 meeting when all council members are expected to be present.
Councilman Tim Johnson said he was concerned about eliminating the language. As he reads the charter, he said, the language prevents committee members from hiring other people to do recalls and prohibits outside influences from coming in. He said the committee can arrange to have their expenses paid by another group, “but that’s all.’’
Johnson said recalls are not supposed to be exercised irresponsibly.
“We’ve already experienced a recall process that I think was ill-advised and poorly planned and not responsibly executed,’’ Johnson said, referring to the unsuccessful attempt to recall Councilman Ron Christianson.
Charter Commission member Richard Larson said the commission proposed eliminating the current language because it does not say who is to make the payment.
“That was our consideration for removing it,’’ he said. “It didn’t state who would make the payment, if the city was liable for it, or whoever.’’
Councilwoman Audrey Nelsen asked City Attorney Robert Scott for his opinion.
Scott said he tended to take Johnson’s interpretation. He said the effect of the current language is to prevent any member of a recall committee from being paid, apart from reimbursement for expenses and fees.
The second amendment under consideration is in Section 2.11 and would remove six suggested sets of parliamentary procedure rules and would merely require the council to adopt an “established’’ set of parliamentary rules.
The third amendment affects Section 9.04, which requires an oath of office be taken by an elected or appointed official and by board and commission members. The proposed change would remove two words - the office - from the section.
Charter Commission Vice Chairman Bob Bonawitz said the sentence did not read correctly with the two words in the paragraph, “so it would be the duties of whatever office is to be held,’’ he said.
Christianson said he shared Johnson’s concerns on the recall change. He said the charter is something that should not be “messed with’’ very often.
“It’s not meant to be changed annually,’’ he said.
Nelsen, a former Charter Commission member, said she wanted more information on the commission’s intent in recommending the recall revision.
But she felt strongly that the commission “has the right to do this and they should be updating it on a regular basis and we need to respect that.’’

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.