WHY YOUR VOTE IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF BELLAIRE
We are at a truly important juncture that will determine the future of Bellaire. A group of very vocal residents has banded together to change our City Charter, the most foundational document of our City. Their efforts at trying to dupe the public include misleading lawn signs, direct mail pieces, advertisements and a barrage of misleading statements posted relentlessly on social forums such as NextDoor. They urge people to Vote Yes and note that the intent is providing choice for all. These proposed city charter amendments in don’t provide “choice” for all. They provide choice for some—the some being those who agree with the authors of the amendments. As the mayor points out, there is no protective language in the amendments for those citizens who want to initiate sidewalk construction. Our Charter provides a way to address controversial issues such as sidewalks. The way is an ordinance.
One of the leaders of this group is featured in the video at our Bellaire City Charter Chambers threatening our duly elected officials by promising, "We will change the City Charter and we will take the power away from you." These charter amendments will take away from council the power to make public safety decisions. For complete coverage of the City Council meeting where this footage was obtained, view:
A few definitions to keep in mind as we discuss this are below:
MUNICIPAL CHARTER: The National League of Cities defines a municipal charter as the basic document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of the city government. It is comparable to the Constitution of the United States or a state's constitution. The charter is, therefore, the most important legal document of any city.
POWER GRAB: an attempt to try and take power or control. to grab: to seize, to catch, to snatch, to capture.
The National Civic League also provides direction on when to change a charter. Their direction is as follows:
Not every local government issue is a charter issue. Most problems governments face have nothing to do with the quality of the charter. Many concerns about the workings of local government can (and should) be handled other ways. There is a danger to making changes to a charter when those changes could be achieved another way. In as much as charter changes can bring about positive results, they can also produce overly cumbersome procedures, unjustifiable advantages for certain groups, and onerous restrictions on governmental leaders. So, before a decision is made on whether or not to pursue a desired change through the charter, other possibilities should be considered first.
The following questions are suggested to sort out how best to address the area(s) of concern:
• Can this problem be solved by the passage of an ordinance?
• Can this problem be addressed with an administrative measure (such as amending an existing departmental or city-wide administrative policy or procedure)?
• Does the mayor or city manager already have the authority to make changes that might address this problem?
• Should a solution to this problem be sought by getting new officials in office?
• Might state legislation address this problem more effectively than a change to the local charter?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” that alternative should probably be tried first. While many problems could be solved through a charter amendment, most problems can be addressed more efficiently other ways. Furthermore, many local government services and regulations are mandated by federal or state law. In other words, altering a municipal charter cannot eliminate or change policies or requirements established at higher levels. Click here for the link to this document.
So you might ask yourselves why this group of non-elected individuals is attempting to bypass the proper legislative channels? You also might ask why they only highlight portions of the language of the ballot language we all will vote on? You might ask why they attempt to oversimplify a process and language that is ripe with obstacles? Changing a City Charter is a serious issue for which all deliberation should include the complete language of what is being voted on.
If these 3 amendment propositions pass, what will be next? Will a few un-elected residents be in charge of our Police and Fire? Will they attempt to decide which days are trash may be picked up? Will they want to manage our parks and recreation system? This is a dangerous precedent to set. We need your help to defeat these amendments to protect our democratic process and way of life.
Early voting has started! We are working every day to defeat this power grab by a few “get off my lawn” neighbors. Thanks to your generous donations we have placed over 400 signs, hung over 1,000 door hangers and educated many neighbors on social media and in community newspapers.
To help get us continue this fight, please reach out to your Bellaire neighbors and friends to reiterate the importance of voting AGAINST these propositions. Please consider texting, emailing, and using your social media. We don’t want anyone to show up to the voting booth misinformed or confused.
A vote AGAINST Propositions A, B and C preserves The City of Bellaire Charter
A vote AGAINST Propositions A, B and C protects our democratic process.
Vote AGAINST all 3 amendments!