Sunday, April 24, 2016
The upcoming May 7 election includes 11 propositions to change or clean up the city charter.
You heard it from Councilman Jungus Jordan. You heard it from League of Neighborhoods President, Libby Willis. Now you're hearing it from me, Clyde Picht, a former four term council member. When I was on the council we were paid $75 per meeting. To be on the council you don't have to leave town and you don't have to travel far for weekly meetings and you can still live in your own home and hold another job. It is a public service and it's an honor to serve. I differ with some in that I think two more council seat would be beneficial. So here are my recommendations:
VOTE YES to create two more council seats. We have had 8 council districts for decades and the city has grown to twice the size and twice the population that is was a mere twenty years ago. It's not so much because of population but the area has grown to over 325 square miles and extends into 5 counties. Many residents will never experience a councilmember being within miles of their house. It's not about ethnicity or race, it's about basic representation. An added bonus would be to create some suburban opposition to the stream of tax giveaways that favor downtown. While some say the council has too much to do, add two more council members to provide some relief.
VOTE NO to extend council terms. Usually council members are not even challenged unless their job is less than generally acceptable. To extend the terms just means less work for the members. The constituents may suffer if their council member isn't performing and has an extra year to slough off.
VOTE NO to stagger terms. I can't recall an election where all the members were replaced at once. It just creates an additional expense of an out of cycle election.
VOTE HELL NO on a pay raise to $45,000 per year. Council members hire four people: City Manager, the one really responsible for running the city (and paid well to do it); City Attorney to provide legal advice and represent the council and city staff; City Secretary who maintains the council agenda and provides administrative help to the council; and City Auditor who audits different departments and confirms accuracy of accounting processes. In addition the council makes policy. That's the way it has been for decades and sometimes they make good policy and sometimes it's bad. Of course they'll only admit to good policy. Sometimes council members will claim they work 40-60 hours a week. Don't believe it. They are obligated to council meetings and selected committee meetings. They also get plenty of perks. Some include overseas travel worth quite a lot. They also get free lunches, parties, retreats, and other fun things. If the same job was worth $75/meeting 11 years ago how can it possibly be worth $45,000/year now with no more work? We'll create a miniature congress where members stay for 40 years and do nothing.
VOTE NO to filling vacant council seats by appointment. The electorate deserves to pick their own person. It doesn't happen that often and it only matters in the council district where a seat is vacated. If the council can give away millions in development tax schemes they can surely find the money for a special election.
Do your fellow Fort Worth residents a favor and share this with them.