On Tuesday, August 7 2018 there will be one proposal on the primary ballot. Proposal R asks Detroiters if they favor a “general revision” of the City Charter. The City Charter is an important document and there is a great deal of information to consider before voting on Proposal R. If R passes, voters will select candidates for the Charter Revision Commission in November, and have an opportunity to engage in the Charter Revision process.
What is Proposal R?
Proposal R is on the Detroit Primary Election Ballot this year. The Primary Election is Tuesday, August 7th, 2018.
Proposal R asks Detroiters: “Do you favor a general revision of the 2012 Detroit City Charter by a charter revision commission? Yes or No”
What is the City Charter?
The City Charter can be likened to the US and Michigan Constitutions. It is the law that mandates how the City works on a day to day basis.
The 2012 City Charter supported the shift from an “at large” City Council to the current Council By District system.
The 2012 City Charter also provides for a level of community power and oversight.
The Police Commission and it’s District-based structure being one important example of community oversight.
Why is the City Charter up for a vote now?
A previous version of the City Charter mandates that a question about charter revision is placed on the ballot and voted on every 16 years.
This is the case for Proposal R; it is on the ballot to meet legal requirements.
The last time the Charter was opened it was through an independent ballot initiative regarding proposed changes to the structure of city council i.e. shift to Council by District.
The current City Charter became the official charter for the city of Detroit in January 2012.
What about the Candidates for City Charter Revision Commission?
If Proposal R passes, individuals who were successful in having their petition signatures certified by the city Clerk’s office, will then become candidates for the City Charter Revision Commission.
They will appear as candidates on the ballot in the November 2018 General Election
As in any other election, the candidates will campaign for their seat on the revision commission and it will be up to the voters to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. The Detroit People’s Platform does not endorse candidates
The top nine (9) vote getters will serve as members of the nine (9) member Charter Revision Commission.
There is a process for write-in candidates as well. The deadline for write-in candidates to file Declaration of Intent forms is 4:00 p.m. on July 27th.
The 9 candidates elected in November will be seated on the City Charter Revision Commission for three years.
What is the charter revision process?
The last charter revision process took three years and spent nearly a million dollars.(1)
Though the process includes public hearings and other opportunities for community engagement, the Commissioners themselves have a great deal of influence in determining what the revision process and final charter document will look like.
After the revision process, the Commission’s proposed Charter goes to the State’s Attorney General who has the power to change and edit it before approval by the Governor. The Detroiters must vote on it.
Are there alternatives to revision?
There are other, less time consuming and expensive alternatives that allow for changes to be made to the city charter without opening it up for the full scale revision process.
The charter can be amended by a 3/5 majority vote of City Council or a ballot initiative that would put the amendment to a vote by Detroiters.
What’s good about the current City Charter?
The roll out of the 2012 City Charter was interrupted by Emergency Management and the Municipal Bankruptcy process.
Since the end of Emergency Management, the City Council and Mayor’s office have not fully implemented, or fully adhered to, the City Charter.
Citizens should be given an opportunity to both learn about and use the current charter.
The current city charter approved in 2012, includes strong citizen and community engagement aspects that could be of great benefit to the community.
2012 City Charter Revision Page: http://www.detcharter.com/charter/
Michigan Radio 2012 Charter Revision timeline http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-voters-approve-new-city-charter
Charter Revision Budget: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20100427/EMAIL01/304279999/charter-panel-makes-hires-gets-down-to-business
There is a great deal of information in this education document about the Charter Revision Process.