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Hartford City Council Approves Charter Amendment Calls Out Voter Voices in Constituency, Police and Education – Hartford Courant

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HARTFORD — The Hartford City Council sent out a revised charter to voters in November after narrowly confirming it by a 5-3 vote after a special session of the three-hour marathon on Thursday.

Hartford City Council Speaker Marie Rosado, along with Rep. Marilyn Rossetti, Rep. Nick LeBron, Rep. James Sanchez, and Majority Rep. TJ Clark, all Democrats, participated in the bill’s approval.

Working Family Rep. Josh Michtom and Tiana Hercules, along with Democrat Rep. Shirley Surgeon, voted to reject the change.

Trustee John Gale was not present at the meeting.

Among the changes voted on by residents are an overall cleanup of what is effectively the city’s constitution, including uniform standards and definitions, the ability of the city council to hire budget analysts, legal aid and assistance through ordinances, and There is a removal of the requirement for legal aid by ordinance. Corporate lawyers must live in the city (although this may also be modified by ordinance).

Most notably to many, the district elections for city council members, the direct election of a majority of the members of the Hartford School Board, and the creation of a Police Commission to increase civilian oversight of the Hartford Police Department. There is none.

Before the final vote, councilors contested whether to send a revised version of the charter to voters.

“The charter revision is an opportunity to see the big picture of how our city is governed,” said Michtom, who was critical of the year-long process. See what’s wrong and take bold steps to fix it, this charter won’t do that. We’ll make technical fixes and strengthen the status quo, and the status quo in this city is bad in terms of how the government works for the people.”

Miktom pointed out the low voter participation rate in the city.

“People have a sense that they have no voice, no way or no one to turn to, or that the person will do what they need to do,” he said.

Michtom referred to experts before the Charter Revision Commission said the geographic district system would increase voter participation and engagement.

“The Charter Reform Commission didn’t do that,” he said, adding that it was the issue that came up most during the West End debates while he was running for president. and last in the state [at-large system]Our system doesn’t respond to people, they don’t know where to go, they don’t have a sense that their votes matter. “

Miktom added that the same problem exists for school boards. “The most important service for them.”

“Unfortunately … one of the ways people most engage with the city is through the police, or the city, with them,” he said. “We have had the opportunity to look at police commissions as a way to give people control and discipline, responsiveness, and direct voting influence over the budget of police departments, and the commissions are also in their investigations. I wasn’t involved.”

Michtom spoke “with little input” of how a few people have so much influence over how Hartford is governed.

The surgeon said he heard from voters that they needed representatives from each region of the city to get residents involved.

“I believe in district elections, one of the things I want the Charter Revision Committee to look at,” she said. “Central governance of a city without constituencies, it’s flawed.”

Clark, who was on a swing vote, said he was “disappointed” that several items important to residents were not addressed, including district representatives on the city council.

“I think the time to act is now,” Clark said. “In all, one might argue that the current structure of nine members is not very influential and ignores the voices of those called neighbors.”

Rosado, who supported the revision of the charter, praised those who worked on the committee and pointed to the lengthy process leading up to the final vote.

“We had over 33 meetings and two hearings,” she told Michtom. “This revision of the Charter has done a great job. … This is democracy, isn’t it? You hold a meeting, propose a vote, and vote on it. If you don’t, you can’t decide not to attend the Council again. You go back.”

A special meeting on Thursday put an end to the controversial process. Notably, six of her fourteen members of the committee resigned, but did not resign. Ensure that certain changes have not been made, such as the creation of police commissions.

Commission chairman James Wolfe denied that such a meeting had taken place.

Nevertheless, Miktom said that all four black members of the charter board resigned “because they felt like corrections had been made.”

“Whether there was a fix or not, I think the people who ran this issue had an obligation to hear it, bring those people back and start a discussion, but they didn’t do it.” “What we have here is a process that marginalizes many members, including all black members in our very black city.”

Michtom adds: How does this machine work? See how these elements work together, what’s going wrong, and take bold steps to fix it. This Charter does not do that. It makes some valuable technical fixes and then enhances the status quo. “

Rosado disputed what he had heard about the “fix”.

“When I heard comments like ‘fixed’, there was no fix,” says Rosado. “There were meetings. There was a lot of lobbying. There were votes. We need to work together as a council, as allies to move this city forward…we need to move forward.”

Wolf said he was happy with what was handed to voters.

“The City Council has approved the most comprehensive package of charter revisions since 2002, when the City changed its form of government. committee members, and the public,” he said in a statement.