Charter Review Committee appointed

Bradenton Beach Charter Review Committee
Commissioner Randy White opposed two committee nominees and the city resolution that establishes the new Charter Review Committee. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – The City Commission has appointed a five-member Charter Review Committee that is expected to begin reviewing the city charter in early June.

The new committee consists of Mary Bell, a retired Caterpillar executive; Anne Leister, sales director for Coventry Health Care; Randy Milton, a retired Manatee County government employee; Debra Cox, self-employed; and Dan Morhaus, an executive.

Mayor John Chappie did not nominate for consideration a sixth applicant – former Planning and Zoning Board member John Metz.

“Mr. Metz is part of some litigation at this time, so I would not be comfortable with that,” Chappie said.

The six applications were presented to commissioners sight unseen during their May 17 meeting. Commissioner Randy White opposed the appointments of Leister and Cox. Bell, Milton, and Morhaus were appointed unanimously.

“I just don’t know who these people are. This is the first time I’ve seen their names. I’m looking at the occupations,” White said.

Commissioner Jake Spooner later asked White why he opposed Leister’s appointment.

White said Bell seemed clearly qualified, but he was less clear about some of the others.

The commission appointed Bell to serve as acting chair by a 5-0 vote and Leister to serve as acting vice-chair by a 4-1 vote. When the committee first convenes, its members will elect a chair and vice-chair. White also opposed the city resolution that establishes the Charter Review Committee and its duties and responsibilities.

Committee members are subject to the Florida Sunshine Law and cannot discuss the charter review outside of a publicly noticed meeting. Their meetings will be open to the public, and public input will be accepted.

The committee will conduct an extensive review of the city charter that determines how the city government is structured and governed.

The committee also will be asked to clean up inconsistencies contained in three charter amendments adopted by city voters last year. The committee will seek to better define the term “resident” as it applies to city commissioners and commission candidates.

The committee will likely review, but not alter, four new charter amendments proposed by the Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods (KORN) political action committee. It’s possible the committee may propose charter amendment questions of its own that address the same issues as the KORN amendments.

Spooner asked what would happen if the city and KORN place conflicting charter amendment questions on the fall ballot and both are approved by city voters.

“If they directly contradict each other, then neither would technically prevail,” City Attorney Ricinda Perry said. “The City Commission would make that decision, and then if there’s a party that is disgruntled by that, they can take that to the judge and try to get the judge to enforce the conflicting provisions, but where there is a direct conflict the law would not stand.”

Perry needs the committee’s final report by July 18. The City Commission will review the final report and decide which committee-recommended charter amendment questions are placed on the November ballot.