Residents review charter amendments

CNOBB Charter Amendment Mailed
CNOBB members and supporters were among those on hand for a charter amendment discussion at a city commission meeting in August. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – City property owners are getting their first look at detailed information about three charter amendments proposed by the Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach (CNOBB).

“This resolution shall be mailed to each member of the city of Bradenton Beach electorate in a timely fashion prior to the Nov. 7 election,” says section 3 of Resolution 17-881.

The resolution adopted by the city commission in early September formalized CNOBB members’ petition-supported demands to place three charter amendment questions on the city ballot.

“Enclosed is important information for all residents/property owners in Bradenton Beach,” the cover sheet says.

The enclosed information includes the 13-page city resolution that recaps in detail the debate that ensued about the proposed charter amendments. It also includes the CNOBB petition initiative that circumvented the city’s traditional charter review process.

The resolution references numerous legal and procedural insufficiencies and concerns raised by City Attorney Ricinda Perry and City Clerk Terri Sanclemente. These include concerns about the petition signature gathering process, the amendment language and alleged Sunshine Law violations by CNOBB members who served on a city board or committee.

The mailed document also contains 13 pages of exhibits pertaining to ballot language revisions and the CNOBB petition forms. The final ballot language will first appear on the vote by mail ballots distributed by the Supervisor of Elections Office on Friday, Oct. 6. The final fate of the proposed amendments will be known at the conclusion of the city elections on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Ward elimination

Charter amendment 1 seeks to eliminate the four city commission wards that require one elected or appointed commissioner from each of the four geographically designated wards. CNOBB members have stated their views that eliminating wards would produce more commission candidates, fewer candidates running unopposed and fewer commissioners being appointed to vacant commission seats.

“Our objective is to maximize the possibility of having multiple candidates on the ballot,” says the CNOBB website.

Commissioners John Chappie, Ralph Cole, Marilyn Maro and Jake Spooner have expressed support for the wards and opposition to their elimination.

Eliminating wards would make all commission seats at-large seats and make it possible for the five-member commission to contain three or more members from the same street, block, neighborhood, condominium complex or trailer park.

Anna Maria and Holmes Beach do not have commission wards.

Residency requirements

Charter amendment 2 seeks to reduce commission candidates’ residency requirement from 24 months to 12. The ballot language also seeks to remove the requirement for candidates to be “registered in the city of Bradenton Beach,” it does not specify whether this pertains to being a registered city voter, as currently required by the city charter.

In 2016, 59 percent of Bradenton Beach voters supported maintaining the 24-month residency adopted by 67 percent of city voters in 2015. Anna Maria and Holmes Beach have two-year residency requirements.

Charter interpretation

Charter amendment 3 seeks to limit the city commission’s ability to interpret the city charter with ordinances and resolutions. The ballot language seeks new charter language that says any ordinance shall be consistent with the charter and controlled by the charter in the event of an inconsistency.

Resolution 17-881 claims this amendment would prevent the commission from interpreting its ordinances and laws and it says, “Florida courts have long recognized that is a role of a local government.”

CNOBB members have referenced ordinances and resolutions adopted by past commissions that sought to clarify the commission’s interpretations of the city charter regarding the weak mayor’s limited supervisory authority and the weak mayor’s limited role in creating and controlling meeting agendas.

E-mail exchanges obtained during the Sunshine Law investigation included CNOBB members Reed Mapes and John Metz expressing a desire for a stronger mayor who has the authority to terminate city employees, including the contracted city attorney.