Sunday, February 2, 2014

Election Canvassing Changes at Tuesday Meeting - Potential Charter Violation

There will be a City Council meeting this Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Although this meeting begins in less than 48 hours, City Hall has yet to publish an agenda that would allow residents to know what will be discussed at the upcoming meeting. However, last week's workshop meeting revealed some clues as to City Hall's agenda for this Tuesday.

I previously speculated that City Hall's purpose in calling a special meeting last week was to allow for an initial reading of Proposed Ordinance 14-01, an ordinance designed to change Belle Isle's election canvassing requirements. (You can read more about it here.) It appears that the actual purpose of last week's special meeting was to appoint Commissioner Karl Shuck onto the Cornerstone Charter School Board of Directors. I am unclear as to why this school board appointment was so pressing that it required City Hall to call a special meeting in advance of the regular Council meeting scheduled for six days later.

Regardless, Proposed Ordinance 14-01 was not given an initial reading last week, but will be given its first reading and discussion at the Council meeting this Tuesday. It was also indicated at last week's meeting that City Hall plans another special meeting in the coming weeks to pass Proposed Ordinance 14-01 in advance of the March 11 election.

Residents often question City Hall's motives when special meetings are called to pass a controversial ordinance or make a major decision. While the purpose of this ordinance may be entirely innocuous, the sudden rush to pass it in advance of the March 11 election, and outside of the eyes of the regular meeting attendees, may make residents question the real reason City Hall is pushing so hard to have it passed in advance of the election.

Furthermore, Commissioner Harvey Readey states that Proposed Ordinance 14-01 violates our City Charter. Specifically, changing the composition of our City's election canvassing board would violate section 3.03 of the Belle Isle City Charter, which clearly states that "The city council shall be the judge of the election and qualification of its own members, subject to review by the court." The City Charter cannot be changed without a public referendum to the voters of Belle Isle.

Please plan to attend the the City Council meeting this Tuesday, February 4 at 5:30 p.m. for discussion of Proposed Ordinance 14-01 as well as any other matters that may be added to the as-yet-unposted agenda. Hope to see you there!


  1. Who is responsible for drafting the City Ordinances and Resolutions? Should they not be developed and reviewed by someone well versed in our City Charter? Is this too much to expect? There is a reason we have checks and balances. Sometimes, the "easiest" way (streamlining the Canvassing process) is not the best way because it strips us of our liberties. This is very troubling.

  2. Sorry to have missed the meeting and hope Bill Cowles covered the absentee ballot verification importance of a canvassing board. Also, Hoffmer is a County road, although the right of way belongs to B.I., so why try to regulate its traffic?


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