Council Member C.O. Bradford and HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson would like one.
Houston needs a Charter Review Commission to review, update and propose recommendations to the voters to modernize our charter, the structure and operations of city government, with specific attention paid to the budget process.
It might seem counterintuitive to call for appointment of a Charter Review Commission now, with municipal elections set for Nov. 5 and some faces likely to change on the City Council. We don’t think so. By appointing a Charter Review Commission in the next few weeks, the City Council can lift the process of improving and modernizing the operations of city government above politics.
A Charter Review Commission appointed now to make recommendations for the November 2014 ballot could not reasonably be perceived as an attack on any candidate currently seeking to serve as our city’s next mayor. The commission’s membership should be former city elected officials, academic and legal experts on Texas municipal governance, finance and infrastructure issues as well as local business leaders and entrepreneurs. No current elected city official or employee should be allowed to serve on the commission. The work of the commission should not be a political exercise.
As I’ve noted before, I’m pretty sure the next charter referendum cannot be until May of 2015, because two full years will not have passed between Election Day 2012 and Election Day 2014, but that’s a minor point. I’m happy to have the discussion – really, we should be having this same discussion at a national level, not that that will ever happen – though I don’t know how many of the suggested changes Bradford and Robinson include that I’d vote for. But sure, let’s talk about it, and if there’s enough support for this change or that, let’s vote on it. It’s our city, and just because we’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean we have to continue doing it that way.