As someone told me on Wednesday night: I didn’t think I could find anything denser than pensions. Until now.
They were talking about the Charter Review Committee meeting.
Man, seriously, boring stuff. Put the public in charge and they don't know what to do. Reminds me of when Jesse “the Body” Ventura won the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial elections in 1998. Once he got into office, he was like: “Now what.”
I bet none of this makes sense.
Here's the deal. The charter review committee, which is supposed to be comprised of 18 residents and nine county commissioners, is supposed to be looking at the charter, making decision and figuring out whether it needs changing.
The committee has now met for four hours – actually five if you count the meet and greet – and as of now, it's figured out how to ask the local government for open records. It's also decided that if somehow and someway the members do get to vote on something, then they'll vote on it twice. And – heck – they might even revisit it for a third time.
In the meantime, the review committee really only got about nine more meeting before it has to give the law department, and subsequently the election commission, the information to go on the ballot.
Actually, I'll quit beating around the bush and be blunt: This thing is a mess. And you can already see the personalities and political persuasions taking over. Oh, man.
So. What are they going to talk about? At the next meeting, they'll address residency issues for those running for office when their pad gets redistricted and whether they can run. Or whatever.
They're also supposed to decide whether to let the County Commission talk about the multi-million dollar Sheriff's Office pension plan.
Apparently, the folks are the charter review committee are too dumb to figure out the intricacies of the retirement program on their own. And, no, those are not my words. I understand that there's a ton of complexities to this. But, here's where the argument that only the County Commission should analyze it fails.
Commissioners say they're more in tune to what's going on with the pension. That's because they have four commissioners on the pension board, they say. Yes, well, at this point it appears those same four commissioners are also on the charter review committee.
Commissioners say it will take time to get up to speed on the details to the pension plan.
Yes, well, the charter review committee meets at least nine more times before the deadline runs out to get a question on the ballot, and the commission will hold about 10 meetings in the same time (and I'm being generous with that “10”).
Commissioners say the review committee will have too much on its plate. Really? Right now, it doesn't have jack on its plate.
But, the commission is about to have a big budget sandwich on its plate. Oh yeah, and a $7 million school funding problem, a billboard ordinance and that little thing called Midway Business Park.
They must have some good jugglers on that commission.
Also, something else that some commissioners have failed to tell the public.
There's been some insinuating going on that only the charter review committee can make changes to the charter. That is not the case. The commission can, too. Why do you think they'd even want to address the Sheriff's Office pension plan (which is in the charter)?
So, the whole argument about “woe is the charter review committee because it just won't have time to do everything” really doesn't fly. Cause, maybe the review committee would rather address the pension than, say, something like increasing the amount of members on the County Commission. (Yes, that proposal has been kicked around behind the scenes.) Yeah, maybe the review committee would rather have the commission look at THAT.
The reality is that the pension should probably be tweaked if the county wants to save money. But, that doesn't necessarily mean it should be killed. I think there's a fear that if it goes to the charter review committee, then that's just what members will do – put an “up or down” vote on the ballot. The other thought is that if it goes to the commission, then members won't have enough votes to float that type of question (they'd need seven). Instead, there would be a move to only make tweaks.
Now, I'm not making an argument about who should take up the pension plan. Maybe both bodies should. Maybe only one. I'm just saying that you're going to hear a lot of BS about why one body is better than the other.
Maybe both boards should look it over.