Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Fourth of July Exercise in Democracy!

According to the discussion at Tuesday's Council meeting, the Bernstein Ordinance will be ready for presentation at next month's meeting. Now that the ball is rolling on the Bernstein Ordinance, it's time we address another crucial item for restoring democracy in Belle Isle: requiring general elections to replace retired Commissioners.

Are you aware that five of our seven Commissioners on the City Council were appointed by Mayor Brooks? How could this happen in our supposedly democratic society?

Ten years ago, the Mayor of Belle Isle only had the power to appoint replacement Commissioners when one retired or otherwise left office with less than six months remaining in his or her term. This Charter provision was reasonable - it prevented the City from having to run a hasty election when there were only a few weeks or months remaining in a retiring Commissioner's term.

When Mayor Brooks entered the scene, all of this changed. As the Council began to recognize that Bill Brooks was exercising the broad powers of his office much more fully than our previous Mayor, the Commissioners sought a change. To combat Mayor Brooks' excessive use of his office's power, the Council changed the City Charter to invest many of our Mayor's prior powers into the City Manager, who had to be approved by the Council.

Before permitting these Charter changes, Mayor Brooks demanded one seemingly small concession from the Council - the ability to appoint replacements for retiring Commissioners at any time in their three-year terms. Not realizing the potential effects of this Charter change, the Council conceded to Mayor Brooks demand.

Fast forward to today. Mayor Brooks has used his demanded power to appoint nearly every Commissioner on the Belle Isle City Council. With the Council in his pocket, Mayor Brooks proceeded to hire a City Manager who would follow the Mayor's orders without question. This means that Mayor Brooks has now regained the powers previously stripped by the Council while also adding the power to appoint the Council members who supposedly oversee his actions. Welcome to Belle Isle "democracy."

So I think it's time for a little Fourth of July exercise in representative democracy. Ever single person reading this article should call or write their Commissioner to let them know that the Charter has to change. Neither Bill Brooks, nor any future Mayor of Belle Isle, should ever again be permitted to appoint a member of the City Council. It's time to return to a sensible Charter that requires democratic elections of replacement Commissioners and only permits mayoral appointments when a Commissioner resigns during the final six months of a term.

Find your Commissioner's contact information below and contact him or her directly. Posting comments to the Sun, Facebook, or anywhere else is great for getting the word out, but it's not enough. The Council needs to see that we are committed to this cause and that we cannot be ignored!

Commissioner Map & Contact Info

5 comments:

  1. Please understand we do not live in a democracy! The Founding Fathers were very careful to never use the word "democracy" in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We live in a representative republic. Those we elect represent us. Democracy is nothing more than mob rule. Other than your lack of knowledge regarding our form of government I have been enjoying the newsletter

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    1. Thank you for your comment - I'm sure the Sun readers will appreciate the lesson.

      I would like to note, however, that I used the term "representative democracy," which is generally considered to be interchangeable with "republic." See here: http://ncsl.typepad.com/the_thicket/2011/09/republic-or-representative-democracy.html

      I like to use the word "democratic" when I write for the Sun, as it has more meaning for most readers, but I appreciate you highlighting the real definition of that term.

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    2. Thank you for your correct term "Representative Republic" it is hard to believe that some folks are still getting that wrong. My middle school teacher taught us correctly, and often people will accept the wrong form.

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  2. You are doing an outstanding job Jeremy of keeping us informed, something the mayor and council has NO desire to do.
    Thank you for your hard work, i can only hope you will run for Mayor. it is time for a much needed change in Belle Isle.
    I hope you send all your articles to the local media. They need to be aware of what is going on.

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  3. Thank you for bringing so much to light. Any chance of you listing which of our current commissioners are actually elected?

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