City charter alterations head to voters

In the October 8, 2002, issue of the Register-Guard, reporter Joe Mosley writes:

These are measures for the truly devoted. For the aficionado of the obtuse. For the voter with time on his or her hands and an unnatural capacity for the mundane.

There are eight of them in all, each a measure that would make one or more mostly unnoticeable changes to the Eugene city charter. The first measure would make about thirty minor language changes that the City Council and staff have agreed are too inconsequential to merit individual consideration. The last would allow citizens to use the initiative process to create “protected ordinances” that could be changed or repealed only through unanimous council action or another public vote.

In-between are measures to clarify conflicts of interest, hiring and firing of department heads, filling of council vacancies, liability for unauthorized purchases, timelines for adoption of ordinances and – the only real departure from current policy—hiring of in-house legal counsel to replace the private lawyers now under city contract.

“I can’t say there’s been an overwhelming interest in the items,” says Mary Walston, the city’s manager of council, public and government affairs. “I think we had two public hearings and at the second one, nobody showed up.

“It’s not a hot topic.”

The proposed amendments all are part of a periodic update of the 24-page city charter, which was last revised – by voters in a special election—in 1976.

The charter is essentially a statement of city authority, powers and policies, while the much more voluminous city code addresses specific situations with ordinances and regulations.

Most of the charter measures headed for the November ballot were proposed by an eight-member Citizen Charter Review Committee, which met 40 times last year to consider revisions. The council agreed in July to refer to voters eight of nine amendments recommended by the committee, declining only to pass along a proposal to hire a city auditor. …

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