Prop Primer

A Round-Up Of The Remainder

By Dave Devine

ASIDE FROM THE, big issues covered in-depth elsewhere in The Weekly's sleek Political Almanac '97, there are eight other propositions on the ballot, some of which will significantly affect how the City of Tucson does business. Most have to do with Tucson's charter, the local constitution for city government.

Prop 100 requires the city to redistrict its six wards two years after the regular census in addition to every four years as now mandated. A reasonable proposal since new census results are available within two years, and keeping the wards balanced in population is important. Vote YES.

Prop 101 has the city's procurement director, not the mayor, responsible for signing contracts. A small point in a big-city operation, but one more shift of responsibility from elected officials to the unelected bureaucracy. Vote YES anyway.

Prop 102: Years ago, Tucson's mayor only cast a vote in order to break a tie on the Council. Over time that role has substantially changed. But the charter still prohibits the mayor from voting to get rid of many city officials, starting with the manager. This proposition would remove that prohibition, meaning the four votes needed to fire these upper-echelon people could come from a pool of seven instead of the present six.

This proposed change also allows the mayor's vote to count in deciding whether to impose an emergency clause on legislation. It's a procedure which is greatly overused and abused now by the city, and this change would make it even easier.

While the present system for removal offers greater certainty and job stability to high-ranking staff members, ours is a government of majority rule. The mayor should have a vote, and four members of the City Council should be able to fire people if they want to. It'll be a little messier than now, but who says democracy is a tidy business? Vote YES.

Prop 103 removes civil service protections from appointed department heads. The difficulty in getting the former director of Tucson Water out of his office is a good example of the need for this change.

Unfortunately, there are some other questionable provisions included in this proposal. The City Council will need no cause to get rid of Civil Service Commission members, the appointed body established to protect city employees' rights from management abuse.

While the commission has been too soft in some recent cases, allowing the City Council to remove a commissioner for any reason is a frightening prospect. They could stack the group to reflect their own views in every case and eliminate the separation necessary between Council and commission. The Civil Service Commission needs to be independent of the Council and this proposal would go in the opposite direction.

Another proposed negative change in this proposition is the elimination of the requirement for the City Council to give consent for some city manager appointments. The directors of finance, human resources and the parks and recreation departments would no longer need this approval. One more small step away from control by elected officials and toward a government run by the bureaucracy. Vote NO.

Prop 104 allows the mayor a vote in filling a vacancy on the Council. The present system, which excludes the mayor, requires four of five Council members to agree on a candidate. That makes it very likely that a weak compromise selection will be made. This proposed change will mean it will be a little easier for someone with real opinions and views to be selected. Vote YES.

Prop 105 would require a charter review advisory committee to be established every 10 years. Vote YES.

Prop 106 makes one section of the charter more politically correct by removing terms like "infirm persons," "beggars," and "unfortunate persons." It replaces those phrases with adjectives about illegal social conduct. Vote YES.

Prop 400: A franchise for GST Lightwave, Inc. for fiber-optic equipment. This one allows for more competition in the industry, usually a good thing--except when you have to answer all of those phone calls. Vote YES. TW

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