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Letter: Dump commission format from Charter

Editor, The Spotlight:

I wonder how many Saratoga voters remember the time in 2005 when one of the city’s deputy commissioners was accused of inappropriate behavior and a grand jury recommended the deputy’s dismissal. Council members considered the situation seriously detrimental to the city’s work force and might increase the city’s insurance rates. They asked the commissioner who had appointed the deputy to request the resignation of the deputy. The mayor and three other commissioners were unable to convince that commissioner to act against the deputy. As a last resort the city council voted 4-1 to defund the position of that deputy. The council did not feel it could wait until the next election to address the problem

This is an important example of a problem with the commission form of government. With five co-equal members of the city council, it is very hard for the council to require cooperation of their fellow commissioners on certain occasions. The council’s action to defund the deputy position was an occasion when there was clear consensus that prompt action by the city was necessary.

We should not have to fear arbitrary administrative actions or inaction by elected commissioners or the mayor. If we approve the amendment to the charter on the ballot this November, we will have a City Council that is elected by Saratoga citizens to make city policy. The operations of city government will be unified under a qualified manager whom the council will hire. I am confident that the city will continue to be the city we are all proud of under a new charter.

Margie H Van Meter

Saratoga Springs

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