consultants are sandburs

Friday, June 06, 2014

RAMSEY - The next June 10 televised council meeting will have a pubic hearing and consideration of franchise fee matters on the agenda.

Here is the City Website link from which readers can download council agenda items.

It being set for a public hearing means citizens attending the meeting rather than watching on QCTV at home can voice opinions on the proposed ordinance; which from service on the Charter Commission appears to me to be giving every protective and narrowing concession the Charter Commission, by majority vote, requested.

My hope would be that Joe Field, Charter Commission Chair, attends to share his thoughts. Previously he has spoken at franchise fee - charter meetings, and it has been helpful. With an alternative approach dubbed the Niska Amendment in honor of Charter Commission Vice-Chair Harry Niska who proposed it earlier in deliberations, it might be helpful if Mr. Niska can also attend and share his current thinking with our citizens. The hope is he will find the time to do so. It would be immeasurably helpful for him to do that.

If the draft/proposed ordinance is passed as is, the Charter Commission members who voted to send it to council will have no cause to delay any further. However, one council member in particular may stymie unanimous passage of any charter amendment text of any kind, however laced with protective language, after publicly having indicated an almost complete disinclination to vote in favor of any franchise fee of any kind; and if there is a substantial amendment of the draft ordinance by council vote, there might be further delay at the Charter Commission level.

As a personal opinion, a change in supermajority requirement from the draft's 6 of 7 on council for approval of any franchise fee imposition, to a 5 of 7 requirement would NOT be a deal killer, in terms of checks and balances against misuse of franchise fee taxation authorization the legislature has granted municipalities.

That point, in particular, is where Mr. Niska's input would best serve us all, in that he proposed the 6 of 7 language, and he should be there to suggest why it might be a deal killer to use a lesser supermajority requirement if he would regard it as such. He can explain nuances that I might not fully understand (while having voted in favor of sending the higher supermajority suggestion to council so that they may consider it).

The worse thing possible, it becomes a political football for the Republicans among us as a hoped for GOTV tool used to appeal to those in Ramsey in opposition to franchise fee use and possibly inclined, at the same time, to like one party's favored November ballot candidates over the other party's.

The likelihood: There will be a charter amendment proposal of some kind on the November ballot; indeed, more than one may be placed on ballot; there being political football players around town, all that.

KEY LINKS: The agenda html page, re the public hearing here; and the text of the proposed ordinance, here. (One reader reported the second link broken; so if it fails again, the pdf document can be reached from the agenda [first] link in this paragraph.)

[Please note, the two links given above are by cut/paste from browser tabs I have open displaying the items. If readers have difficulty accessing things with those links; the first "agenda" link given at the beginning of the post will ultimately lead one, with minimal navigation of the website, to the items.]

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