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Former 23rd District Court Judges Anthony Nicita and William Sutherland are two of group of several community leaders involved in a new city charter advisory panel, convened by Mayor Rick Sollars last month. Nicita and Sutherland were chairman and vice-chairman of the original charter commission in Taylor, which created the document back in 1968, which is was adopted as the City of Taylor was created.
Mayor Sollars, Dr. Paul Reeves and Karl Ziomek discuss the group and its goals in this week's city podcast.
Joining the judges and the mayor on the panel are City Clerk Cindy Bower; Constituent Relations Manager Dennis McDermott, who has also served in several other capacities with the City of Taylor including councilman and department head; Chief of Staff Robert Dickerson, a career law enforcement administrator and former councilman in the City of Wayne; City Councilman Charley Johnson, an advocate for charter change; Robert Szwed, chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Commission; and Ziomek, the city's communications director. All of them attended the group's first meeting, with the exception of Bower, who was involved in the Michigan recount (Deputy Clerk Sara El-Rifaai took her place).
"We wanted to create a diverse group, and to have two of the founding members sit on the panel is a tremendous advantage," Mayor Sollars said. "They are sharing a great amount knowledge. Our city charter has stood the test of time. I think that underlines how well is was done in the first place. This new group is not trying to reinvent government. What we will do is look at parts of the charter that may need some revision or updating."
The group welcomes suggestions on charter changes from the public. Any change should be emailed to Ziomek at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone sending in a suggestion should do more than just email in an idea. Please include detailed reasons behind the suggestion for the change, as well as your name, address and telephone numbers in case the group has questions.
A municipal charter is 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.
According to the mayor, this will be a well-layered process. The group will discuss and possibly suggest changes. Those changes will be passed on to the city administration, which will then bring them to the City Council. If it supports the changes, it will be the council's job to create a resolution to support and place them on a future ballot.
At that point, the voters would make the ultimate decision on whether the changes would amend the charter. All changes to the charter must be approved by voters in Taylor.