Someone forwarded to me an email that was sent out to the League of Women Voters members.
It’s interesting. I live in a different world. While I did not agree with the city manager model, I responded to the early drafts of that proposal regarding term lengths and having the county supervisors also serve on the council. If it was going to pass, I wanted it to be as good as it could be.
For the foreseeable future we have a commission form of government. The LWV could have stated their commitment to a traditional separation of powers while still studying and providing the public with an opportunity to understand the proposals being put on the ballot November 6 to improve what we have.
I don’t understand the kind of rigidity reflected in the League’s email. I am afraid this is just another example of the kind of intolerance and unwillingness to engage with each other that is part of the decline in civil discourse that is so vital to a democracy.
It is important however to not allow frustration to blind one to people’s essential humanity. The members of the League volunteer their time in a good faith effort to serve our community. However much I disagree with their recent actions, these are good people doing what they believe to be right.
Here is the full text of their email:
The LWVSC Board of Directors thinks that it is important that our members understand why LWVSC does not support the proposed new charter that will be on the ballot in Saratoga Springs on November 6, 2018 and why we did support the charter that was on the ballot in 2017.
A little history: At our Annual meeting in 2015 we adopted a 2-year study of the governance of local governments in Saratoga County. We formed a committee, studied the relevant state laws, held meetings, including a consensus meeting, and on April 5, 2017 adopted a position.
The relevant part of the position is:
The League of Women Voters of Saratoga County believes that Cities in this County should separate their administrative functions from their legislative functions by having a City Council that makes policy and laws and either an elected executive or an appointed administrator to carry out administrative functions. The League supports this separation of functions in order to have a strong centralized administration, to have clear lines of responsibility and to eliminate waste.
(The entire position is on the website at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b1ec58225bf0214c000f55f/t/5b2825d2f950b7a1b5587437/1529357779042/LocalGovernance.pdf
The 2017 proposal called for an elected City Council and a City Manager ( a clear separation of powers). This year’s Charter change proposal retains the Commission form of government (where Commissioners administer a department and serve on the City Council), so LWVSC issued the following Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor:
The League of Women Voters of Saratoga County (LWVSC) does not support the new charter being proposed for the City of Saratoga Springs.
LWVSC believes that cities in this County should separate their administrative functions from their legislative functions by having a City Council that makes policy and laws and either an elected executive or an appointed administrator to carry out administrative functions. The League supports this separation of functions in order to have a strong centralized administration, to have clear lines of responsibility and to eliminate waste.
Neither the current Saratoga Springs City Charter nor the City Charter being proposed by this year’s Charter Commission separates the administrative functions from the legislative ones.(City Commissioners and the Mayor sit on the City Council and each administers a department).
If a proposed new charter does not separate legislative from administrative responsibilities, LWVSC does not support it.