Former mayor calls for disbanding of Charter Review


Former Tacoma mayor Harold Moss wants Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland to scrap the Charter Review Committee and start over because of what he calls corruption in the process.

Moss stated his case in an e-mail to the mayor this week, following statements by some of the committee members about their stance on discussions about a likely proposed shift to a more centralized mayoral system.

“The Charter Review Committee now has the stain of being disingenuous in their charge of review and recommendation to the City Council by leading the citizens into believing that their input had value,” Moss wrote. “According to the closed door, but open mic session after the meeting, the people who testified in favor of keeping the present Council-Manager form of government don’t matter anyway. Public hearings advertised as giving citizens a voice in its governance have now been proven to be a mockery.”

His letter comes after the committee held a public hearing on the charter review process that was followed by a second, less attended but still open meeting, when a few of the committee members voiced whether they had heard enough from the public to make their recommendations.

Committee Chairman and former mayor Bill Baarsma defended the process and said Moss had mischaracterized the follow-up meeting and the committee comments.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he stated. “The meeting referred to was open, and there was at least one member of the public in attendance. There was no ‘hot mic’ because the meeting was called to order and thus the mic was on. There are varying opinions on the committee as demonstrated by the recording itself. The important thing is that there is no one particular point of view on the committee, and there are a good mix of views. I guess that is troubling to some people.”

The 15-member committee, he continued, is tasked through council appointment to draft recommendations of charter changes that would then be considered by the City Council, so the committee itself has no power to bring change itself. The City Council will decide which, if any, of the recommendations will be forwarded to the public for a vote.

Those recommendations are due April 19, and will be presented to the City Council on May 6.

Tacoma's City Charter will be the topic of a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. April 24 at University of Washington-Tacoma’s William Philip Hall. The public is invited to this free event to learn more and hear pros and cons of what may fundamentally change how the city operates.  Panelists include: Charter Review Committee Chairman Bill Baarsma, Michael Sullivan, UWT professor, Lyle Quasim, Tacoma-Pierce County Black Collective Co-chair, Lyz Kurnitz-Thurlow, Tacoma-Pierce County League of Women Voters 1st Vice President, and John Ladenburg, former Tacoma council member and Pierce County Executive.

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