This article looks at an amendment to the Grand Rapids City Charter. There are two current commissioners cited, one for and one against. There is also a former City Commissioner who is against the amendment.
GRAND RAPIDS — Can the City Commission govern better with fewer meetings?
First Ward City Commissioner Roy Schmidt believes it can.
He is in favor of a city charter amendment on Tuesday’s ballot that requires commissioners to meet twice a month instead of every week.
Thanks to e-mail, cell phones and laptop computers, the seven member commission is more productive than ever, said Schmidt, the commission’s longest serving member.
This year, city commissioners have experimented with the twice-monthly schedule and moved most of their formal sessions to the evening.
The charter amendment would not prevent weekly meetings if commissioners believe they are needed, Schmidt said.
“I’ve not worked any less,” Schmidt said. “It’s given me more time to meet and talk with people.”
Second Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala disagrees.
“I think it has accomplished nothing for the public and is just a way for us to reduce the number of meetings we have to attend,” he said. “It’s not lean government, it doesn’t make us more effective and it’s not a cost savings.”
While few persons outside City Hall have taken a position on the amendment, former 3rd Ward City Commissioner Bill Blickley is siding with Tormala.
Blickley, who held office in the 1980s, said the commission needs to meet more frequently to stay in touch with City Hall administrators. “You hear about parents needing quality time with their kids, the same principle applies here,” he said.
The charter amendment also allows commissioners to call special meetings over e-mail or voicemail.
The charter currently requires special meeting notices be delivered to commissioners’ homes.