Home Rule Charter Commission prepares to determine which portions of the Charter will be sent to the ballot for change

by Sue Forde for Citizen Review Online

Port Angeles, WA – 4/11/02 – Approximately 10 citizens showed up for the Clallam County Home Rule Charter Commission meeting at 6:30.  During the public hearing section, which started the meeting, several people spoke to the commission about their experiences with the Department of Community Development (DCD), and requested that the Commission place the proposition on the ballot that the Director of that department become an elected position.  Strong comments were also made by local citizens to strengthen the initiative process.

K. Parker Stoops was representative of the citizens’ comments.  He told the commissioners that “99;9% of the land owners are not killing wildlife, and are willing to comply, provided it’s [the law] uniformly administered.”  He stated that the current director of DCD [Bob Martin] “has not been characterized by any of those”, and stated that the county commissioners are not doing their job regarding the abuses of both, including the department’s personnel.  “I ask you to allow the voters to do that job,” he urged the commissioners.

Sheriff Joe Hawe was the invited speaker to the Commission; he reviewed the needs of his department and made several suggestions as to how changes in the Charter could improve it.  He stated that the primary responsibility of local government is the protection of the citizens.  He spoke about the lack of funding in the criminal justice systems.  He also spoke about the coroner’s position, which has been an issue of debate. {Clallam County does not have a formal county coroner.)  He said he isn’t happy with the current system, “but it works.”  He explained that law enforcement officers act as deputy coroners.  They are trained to deal with the family, and to protect the assets of the deceased, he explained.  “We don’t need another bureaucracy,” he asserted.

The Charter Review Commission then went to work, reviewing the Charter section by section to determine which items should go to committee for further discussion.  Following are the items which will be forwarded to committees for discussion to determine which, if any, will proceed to the ballot for the peoples’ vote:

Preamble – The county’s main function to be protection of the people.

Section 2:2 – Commissioners should be elected by district rather than at large – increasing the number of commissioners.

Section 3.2 – Emergency ordinances.

Section 3.3 – Ordinances incorporating other laws by reference.

Article 4 – Other elected officials

Article 5 – Administrative departments – should be delineated as far as DCD is concerned.

Article 5.25 – Hearing examiner system – broaden duties.

Article 5.30 – Resolutions & motions – administrator appointed or removed by ordinance or resolution (for housekeeping purposes)

Article 5.4 Administrator – elected versus appointed.

Article 6.2 – Duties and responsibilities of Administrator for basic housekeeping purposes.  Any evaluation of department heads?  Who supervises?

Article 7.1 – 7.3 - Elections

Article 7.4 – District boundaries for county commissioner – changing dates to correspond with the state.  Order of importance for the items – balance population or north-south boundaries more important?  Move to August date for completion – allows all data to be available.  Resources mandated to Districting Master – 5% of what??

Article 7.5 – Vacancies – does not deal with nonpartisan candidates.  Nothing about replacing district court judges, should they leave.  RCW different than charter.

Article 7.6 – Initiative & Referendum – strengthen it and make it better rather than taking it away.  When a legal review should take place.

Section 8.20 – Initiative & Referendum – separate them?

Sections 8.3 thru 8.7 – Initiative & Referendums – limitations and more.

Article 9.1 thru 9.4 – questions raised by Administrator about budgeting process – shortfalls that need to be handled – substantial change from proposed to final budget.

Article 9.5 – Contracts – housekeeping issue.

Articles 10.1, 10.2, 10.4 – Personnel – county career service – what is it?  Need to fix some issues.  Public hearing to dismiss an employee – should this change to take place before a hearing examiner instead?

Article 12.2 – Purchasing contracts and bonds.

Article 12.4 – Claims against the county.

New Sections Proposed

Rod Fleck:  County shall maintain two district courts – one in Port Angeles and one in Forks.  Impacts on Sheriff’s department because of transport issue.

Don Alexander:  Any ordinance or resolution shall provide a funding source.

Primary duty of the county government is to protect the people.

Committee assignment will handed out before the next meeting.  The next meeting will take place on April 25, 2002 at the Clallam County Courthouse starting at 6:30 p.m.


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