Opinion

Charter Review Commission: full speed ahead | Editorial

The Charter Review Commission is off and running.

And while its train hasn’t necessarily left the station, we suggest that if you want this 21-person panel to consider your thoughts on how county government might be best restructured in order to optimized its efficiency and effectiveness, that you don’t delay.

The commission meets every Saturday on one of the three major islands. Although its proposals are at this point tentative, the commission has already endorsed scrapping the six-person County Council and their six legislative districts in favor of three full-time legislators, who would run for office in countywide elections.

If that sounds familiar, it should.

A council consisting of six part-time legislators was one of the many changes ushered in when voters approved the county’s Home Rule charter in 2005. So was handing over management of day-to-day operations to an administrator, hired by the council. At this point, the charter review commission is pursuing a return to the former commission form of governance, at least in number.

The commission has set a goal of early June to finalize its proposal. Their final plan will be on the November 2012 ballot.

Commissioner Ed Sutton of Orcas Island hopes islanders will take the time to weigh while the panel is formulating its proposal.

“I would greatly encourage everyone in the county who has a interest or concern about the effectiveness of county government to contact the representatives on the committee to express their opinions,” he said.

For February, the meetings are as follows:  Feb. 11, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Orcas Hotel; Feb. 18, San Juan, San Juan Grange, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Feb. 25: San Juan, San Juan Grange, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The county has created a webpage (http://sanjuanco.com/committees/charterreview/default.aspx) for the review commission. It lists all of the members and has links to the meeting schedule, the charter and meeting minutes. The commissioners for San Juan are: Mary Jean Cahail, Bob Levinson, Frank Penwell, Gordy Petersen (chairman), Janice Peterson, Maureen See, Tom Starr, Jim Stegall, Bill Watson and Ron Zee. Their email addresses are: first name and first initial of last name followed by .crc@sanjuanco.com. For example: williama.crc@sanjuanco.com

As the review panel dissects and discusses San Juan County government, toss in your two cents. The public is the most important part of the equation.

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