Two weeks ago, a curious but illuminating event occurred at the city's Central Library. The occasion was a meeting, co-sponsored by the Public Issues Forum and the League of Women Voters, involving candidates seeking positions on the proposed city charter commission. The catch was that the election for which these candidates had qualified had already been postponed by a state court of appeals from this year until the next regularly scheduled city election. That's not until 2007.
One of the anomalies to be worked out in the meantime is the question of whether the list of qualified candidates will be re-opened in the intervening three years. In any case, the reasons for petitioning the election remain valid. Though the original cause that galvanized Dr. John Lunt of Germantown to begin the process -- a too generous provision of pensions for 12-year city employees -- has already drawn corrective action by the City Council, other issues remain. Several of the hopefuls at the library decried, for example, what they saw as the manufactured urgency behind creation of the Pyramid and the FedExForum. Clearly, the larger issue here is one of keeping citizens from being locked out of decision-making.
As retired federal judge Harry Wellford, a panelist at the affair, observed, charter reforms are needful every few decades. We concur.