YOUR SIDE: The Readers Take Over
Why is a charter government still being considered?
To the editor:
Do we the people have a voice?
Last November the citizens of Salem voted down the charter government proposal. Now the proposal is going back on the ballot. Was our vote wasted? We are now faced with another attempt to change the form of government in our city.
I was taught and always believed that the people’s vote was sacred and that majority rules. I have heard that those who are putting the charter government proposal back on the ballot believe the proposal was voted down because it was a presidential election year and voters came out as a result. Are those who want the change in government believing that the turnout will be much smaller and they will succeed in passing this proposal in November?
When the people say “no” their vote should be respected!
I have lived in three cities that embraced the charter government and we should think long and hard about what happens if this change is made.
We, the citizens of Salem, will have no say in who is hired as city manager, how much his salary will be, how long his contract will be nor how many staff he will hire and at what salaries.
We, as citizens, will have no say in the firing of the city manager or their staff if they are not performing in the best interest of the city of Salem. Both of these decisions will be made by the city council with no citizen input.
In the cities I have lived in with charter governments, salaries have been as high as $150,000 per year with a five-year contract. In one city, the citizens had to threaten to vote the council out of office in order to have the city manager fired. The city manager’s contract cost the taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars for his buyout!
Because the city could not by law raise taxes to pay these costs, a surcharge was added to utility bills to pay for the cost of the manager and his buyout. This is now in the court system to determine the legality of this move. Will we be headed to court if this passes?
Since our vote did not count last November, we will have no say in the hiring or firing of those running Salem and we will have no input into the salaries of a city manager or his staff. Since the few believe our vote did not count last November why should we believe our voice will be heard on any issue in Salem?
No matter what political party you are affiliated with please vote “no” to protect our right to have our vote count.
Editor’s note: For the Nov. 7 election Salem voters will be asked to say “yes” or “no” to the formation of a charter commission. If voters want a commission formed, members would then explore the possibility of Salem adopting a charter form of government. They will compose a proposed charter for how the city government will operate. Salem voters would then vote on a charter, most likely in November 2018.