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Groups line up on opposite sides of charter proposal

Tuesday's meeting was advertised as being in the library, but was held in City Hall. "It's almost a case of 'hide the meeting'," he said.

"One of the great things about a democracy is that people can voice their opinions, and voice them strongly," review commission chairwoman Beth Hershenhart said when asked about SUCCESS' efforts. "But the group opposed to this, they haven't said anything substantive. Basically, when we ask them about what they are opposed to, they talk about the process." Hershenhart said the committee was able to act quickly because they have a large group of people who have the same vision for the city, and they have built upon work that began in the 1960s.

The city's charter has been reviewed at least three times before this effort: in 1964, 1982 and 2000. Two of those commissions put referenda on the ballot.

The commission's aggressive timeline had some residents up in arms when they announced in August the proposal would be submitted to the council in September and appear on November's ballot. Many questioned the feasibility of changing the city's form of government in only a couple of months, but Hershenhart took pains to make it clear that the commission only proposes to amend portions of the charter, not repeal it wholly.

Boyd said this is just a matter of wordplay. "That's just an Orwellian use of language," he said. "The idea of replacing a form of government through mere amendments to an existing charter is just " George Orwell would have loved it."

Boyd said the commission is acting too hastily, and leaving too much up to a transition taskforce that would guide the city through the changeover should the referendum pass.

In response to SUCCESS' fundraising and campaign to quash the referendum, a group called Move Saratoga Forward is collecting funds in support of the commission.

If the ballot referendum passes on Nov.7, voters will elect a full-time mayor and a legislative city council in November 2007. The mayor and city council elected under the revised structure would assume office in January 2008. The charter revision commission would provide a written report with recommendations for a transition plan to implement the amended charter.

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