OBSERVER CORPS REPORT
By Caroline Emmons-Schramm
Sandra Powers, Jean Seigfried and I attended the first of two meetings the citizens’ Orange County Charter Review Commission scheduled to review reports from the CRC subcommittees and determine which of the proposed amendments to the Orange County Charter should be placed on the November ballot.
This meeting began with a roar. The room was packed, and many county residents presented their opinions with passion and eloquence. Other residents were obviously not so used to presenting their views in public, but gamely made the effort because the issues were important to them.
The first proposal, to increase the number of county commissioners to 8 and keep 1 county mayor, generated 2 hours of public input, although the meeting was scheduled for only 2 ½ hours in total. Most testimony was in favor of placing the proposal on the ballot, although not all. The Commission voted not to place the amendment on the ballot by one vote. Many of the public were not happy with this result; look for this issue to return during the next review process.
After this, the commissioners agreed to discuss 2 other proposals and leave the others until the meeting scheduled for 4/12/12.
The commission agreed to place an amendment “prohibiting or regulating simulated gambling or gambling” to the extent that such minimum standards are more strict than applicable municipal standards before the electorate.
Next, the proposals from the CRC subcommittee that would allow the board of county commissioners to fill a vacancy in the office of county commission and of county mayor were heard. As more than one process was presented, the issue was tabled to give the CRC members time to review the options and be able to discuss them at the next meeting.
As this issue is a concern of the League of Women Voters of Orange County, I spoke in favor of local County government having this ability, citing our position that “local government should have the necessary power and authority to meet its responsibilities.” The League believes this circumstance defiantly meets the criteria of local control.
The next meeting will cover discussion and vote on the options to fill vacancies in the offices of county commission and county mayor. In addition the CRC will address the Frequency of the Charter Review Committee and the Citizens Review Board.
The meeting on 4/12/12 should be interesting and extensive.