Group Explores Review of City Charter



Does the city of Memphis Charter need a modern overhaul?

That’s what one group, Ranked Choice Tennessee (RCT), is looking to determine with the help of the public.

The city of Memphis Charter operates like the city’s constitution, creating a framework for the government. It influences how the city operates, makes decisions, and spends money.

The charter, which was established in 1968 and later modified in 2008, consists of 81 articles, ranging in topic from public amusement to public health.

On Friday, RCT will hold a public meeting, where Carlos Ochoa, communication director of the group, said context about what the charter is and why it should be reviewed will be discussed.

“The charter is like our city's constitution,” Ochoa said. “It tells us how our tax dollars are spent, how decisions about changes to our neighborhoods are made and the power of our elected officials. Our charter was written in 1968 and many people believe it’s time to review it for opportunities to modernize it.”

Ochoa noted that the need to review the charter “doesn’t mean anything is wrong with it. We might have the best, up-to-date charter in the world, but if we don’t, the people of Memphis should have the right to know what could be changed."

Those are interested in seeing the charter reviewed will be invited to sign a petition to create a Charter Review Commission, who would review the charter for a year before recommending amendments. If a commission is formed, RCV anticipates that any amendments proposed by the group would be on the 2022 ballot for citizens to vote on.

Ochoa said Friday’s meeting will touch on the “potentials and limits” of that process. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Wonder Cowork Create (340 B Monroe Avenue).

New York City is currently in the process of amending its charter. Last summer, the New York City Council voted to create the Charter Revision Commission to review and propose changes to the city’s charter.

After sixteen months of reviewing the charter with input from the public, the commission’s five proposed amendments to the charter were left up to voters during the city election last week.

The questions on the ballot related to ranked choice voting, the city’s civilian complaint review board, ethics and governance, the city budget, and land use. Each of the five items were approved by voters, based on unofficial election results.

The commission said these changes will be the “most comprehensive revisions” to the charter since 1989.

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