2014-07-31 / Opinion

Recommendations Deserved Public Input

To the Editor:

As organizations and individuals that work with citizens across Newport, we wish to express our disagreement with the City Council’s decision at its meeting on July 23 with regard to key recommendations provided by the Charter Review Commission (CRC). We feel that that decision by the council was wrong as far as changes related to Sections 2-1; 3-4; 3-7; and 8-2 of the Charter.

We do not disagree with the council’s rejection of the changes made in response to advice about legal ramifications and changes that they felt would be better put forth as ordinances instead of done through the Charter.

We strongly object to the council’s refusal to allow the larger issues of the number of wards versus at large council seats and the application of wards to the School Committee to be decided by the voters. The public deserves the right to vote on how it is going to be governed and the type of representation they live under.

Allowing citizens to vote on issues that seem to be controversial is not new to Newport. This council recently allowed a controversial issue to go to the voters when it decided to put the question of table games on the ballot this November. It seems ironic that the council wants residents of Newport to vote on whether or not they want table games, but the decision about their representation, how they may be governed, and the organization of the city is deemed not worthy of a vote by the citizens of Newport.

We believe that it was a mistake for the council to prevent a public vote without so much as holding a public hearing or otherwise engaging the public. In effect, it disenfranchised Newport’s voters.

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