Charter Commission Minutes

April 25, 2000

The Hopkins Charter Commission met on April 25. Present were Commission members: Robert Anderson, Richard Brubacher, Paul Lund, Henry Pokorny, James Shirley, and Harry Smith. Assistant City Manager Jim Genellie was also present.

  1. Call To Order
    The meeting was brought to order at 7:05 pm.
  2. Election of Chair and Vice-Chair
    Commissioner Anderson moved and Commissioner Lund seconded a motion that Jim Shirley be elected Chair. There were no other nominations. The Commission voted unanimously to elect Jim Shirley as Chair. Commissioner Pokorny moved and Commissioner Brubacher seconded a motion that Bob Anderson be elected Vice-Chair. The Commission voted unanimously to elect Bob Anderson as Vice-Chair.
  3. Approval of Minutes for June 8, 1999
    The Commission approved the minutes of June 8, 1999.
  4. Reports
    1. Administrative Citations
      Jim Genellie explained the difficulty of enforcing the current nuisance laws. Individuals who choose to ignore inspectors' orders to clean up a nuisance are subject to a criminal citation. The process of pursuing a complaint through the criminal court system is slow and expensive. Furthermore, nuisance violations are probably not an appropriate subject for criminal court.
          A number of cities have successfully addressed this problem through the use of administrative citations in conjunction with an administrative hearing process. The question before the Commission was whether to grant the City Council the ability to pass ordinances that would establish such an administrative citation process.
          The consensus of the Commission after discussion was that the Charter should be amended to allow for administrative penalties. The Commission instructed Mr. Genellie to prepare an ordinance amending the Charter.
    2. Appointments to the City Council
      The second item before the Commission was whether the Charter should be amended to limit the period of time for which someone could be appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Council.
          The City Attorney's office has interpreted the current charter language, in Section 2.05, to mean that whenever a vacancy occurs during a Council Member's term, the City Council will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term. For example, if a new Council Member was sworn in at the first meeting in January and then died the following day, the City Council would appoint a replacement for the remainder of the four year term.
          Minnesota state law handles this situation differently. If a vacancy occurs with more than two years remaining in a term, the Council appoints someone to serve until a special election is held which can be at the next scheduled Council election. At that election a Council Member is elected to fill out the remaining two years of the term. If a vacancy occurs with less than two years remaining in a term, the Council appoints someone to serve the remainder of the term.
          The Commission discussed this issue and decided that while they agreed with the state law on electing a successor, if there is more than two years remaining in the term, they preferred that any special election be held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled City Council election.
          The consensus of the Commission was that the Charter should be amended to require a special election if there is more than two years remaining in a term when a vacancy occurs. The special election, however, should take place at the next regularly scheduled City Council election. The Commission instructed Mr. Genellie to prepare an ordinance amending the Charter.
  5. Communications
    None
  6. Old Business
    None
  7. New Business
    1. The Commission set its next meeting for May 16, 2000 at 7:00 pm.
  8. Adjournment
    The meeting adjourned by unanimous consent.