Wednesday, July 6, 2011

IT'S OFFICIAL: Charter review takes aim at voter-approved term limits

The voter-initiated term limits law that passed in 2002 with 70% of the vote was an amendment to the Palm Beach County Charter. Over the next year, the county is reviewing the charter, presumably looking for ways to update or improve the document. At a public charter review meeting last night at the library on Hagen Ranch Road in Delray Beach, it was unveiled that "eliminating term limits" is on the agenda.

TAKE ACTION: Go here to tell the charter review commission to retain our voter approved, 8-year term limits law as is.

Some background: In 1984, Palm Beach County voters approved a home rule charter form of government, sometimes called "home rule." Since then there have been changes made via citizen initiative (term limits and single member districts) and via referrals of ballot questions by the commission (the non-interference rule and ethics commission). But until now there has not been a thorough top-to-bottom review.

In preparation for this the county is sponsoring charter review presentations around the county and soliciting ideas for changes. As part of last night's excellent presentation by Assistant County Administrator Brad Merriman, a list of changes under consideration were shown. Most were from the commissioners themselves and a few from citizen input. The relevant one here is "eliminate term limits." It was followed by "retain term limits." You can guess which one came from a commissioner and which one came from a citizen!

Please participate in this important process. Please take the Review Commission's online survey (or use on of their postage-paid comment cards if you attend a charter review meeting) . Please leave a short comment on the county's charter review site urging them to keep our voter-approved, 8-year term limits law as is. This can be done here.

We expect the commissioners to argue that since a similar term limits law is being challenged in Broward and working its way through the courts that in order to "clean up" the charter the law ought to be removed before the Florida Supreme Court hears the matter. Then, when the Florida Supreme Court upholds the law, the law is no longer in the charter to enforce.

Can local politicians sink so low? One would hope not. But charter reviews are used by politicians to try to undo term limits all the time, including recently in West Palm Beach.

Let's participate in the process and show our support for the term limits law. The deadline is Aug. 26 for public comment.

1 comment:

  1. From the Charter Review Commission: "Our formal Charter Review Feedback Survey has ended. The results of the survey will be presented to the Board of County Commmissioners at their November 29 [2011] workshop at 2:00 p.m. in the Governmental Center, 6th floor Commission Chambers, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach."