Letter to the Editor — Changes Needed to City Charter

Letter to the Editor — Changes Needed to City Charter

Last year, the Charter Review Commission brought forward numerous changes to the City Charter.

One major change was the move from odd to even years in voting for city council. In 2017 the turnout was around 18%. Due to the fact that 2020 is a Presidential, Congressional, State, County and City election, the expectation is to triple the past miserable turnout.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that the Council elected to table other suggested changes and to not re-open the Charter Commission.

WHY, YOU ASK? Let’s face it, in Cape Coral, if you are a current elected official, you’re extremely hard to beat due to the old boys club.

What’s the Old Boys Club? Some would say the founders ensured the charter kept them in control.

Voting at Large (meaning): each resident voting for each seat was fine for a small town. Now we are the fastest growing city in Florida and it’s time for a change.

Voting for just the area you live in makes that council person accountable to the voters. Their focus will be on their constituents. While the council would vote on all city matters, you could expect more answers to your questions that many times today go unanswered.

At large voting allows the vote of the special interest groups to carry across the city, virtually giving those groups a louder voice in each district. The IUPT, Fire & Police unions have a major influence in our city. The City shows 3,296 employees as of 12/2018.

In the 2017 Cape Coral election, only 20,000 votes were cast. Therefore, if an employee, a spouse, and a friend all vote, that could be half of the votes cast across the 4 seats that were open.

I am not anti-union in any way, but I do support the voice of the people and not the few. Voting in the area you live for council (representation), and all areas for the mayor, would level the city employee’s influence on our elections.

Strong City Manager

The Mayor today has no more power than the other 7 Council Members. It’s a figurehead position. None of the elected officials are engaged in the daily business of the City, nor can they go to any staff member directly. They only know what they are being told. Unless, of course, they do their own independent investigations. As we know, they should not be discussing issues that might be voted on as that would violate Sunshine laws.

The HR portion of the city’s web site shows that the City Manager’s office has just $900,000 in annual salary. Moving to a strong Mayor, who is elected by the people, will be more transparent and much more engaging for council members. Staff loyalty will then rest with the Mayor and Council who will have direct influence over them.

That 900k could be reduced by eliminating several positions in the Current City Manager’s office. Attract a strong mayor at slightly above average pay of say 200 K. Add in an assistant to the strong mayor. Ask more of each division head to eliminate the many errors we see happening on a regular basis, as well as ask the employees to do more.

The Strong Mayor and Council should have required office hours to better assist staff and the residents. And yes, have a council meeting every week be it a regular meeting or a Cow meeting and ramp up the productivity by having fewer items per agenda per meeting. No more hidden agendas. Let the sun shine in!

Sincerely, Cape Coral resident John Karcher

Editor’s Note: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the named authors of any editorials on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of 239Style Media Group or CapeStyle Magazine.

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