Monday, November 8, 2010

Something else that's unfortunate about the election results...

I found this clip on YouTube that may be of interest to you.  Rosa Parks, to hear her tell the story of that day, was tired of just "giving in."  Her personal act of defiance on that day in 1955 galvanized the Civil Rights movement, led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and led people to challenge segregation on a much broader and meaningful basis.

I am not going to enumerate all of the characteristics of the present mix on the City Commission, but for a community as diverse as ours it is disappointing that the current composition of the Commission really doesn't reflect the diversity that everyone seems to talk about.  It also seems that Commissioners rely on certain populations in the city to get elected, but I wonder how effective you can really be as a representative of that group if your experience is markedly different than the people you represent.  I don't see a lot of effort in building leadership to address this situation and make the Commission, even appointed boards, more reflective of our community.  We had an opportunity for a more diverse City Commission until the election results came in last Tuesday night.  I consider this another missed opportunity on the part of the city.

Ladies and gentleman, it's time to walk the walk. One of the structural ways that we could address this representative imbalance would be to enlarge the City Commission to seven (7) seats.  Three seats, including the Mayor, could be elected at large, as they are now with the difference being that they could live anywhere in the city.  Then there would be four seats that are based on the proportional representation of four (4) districts in the city.  These would have to be redrawn from the current districts so that they are roughly equal in population.  When I worked in West Palm Beach, we routinely had to go through this exercise when new Census data became available.  These four (4) seats would only be elected from the district they serve, hence, in theory, being more responsive to the very area they live.  The current practice of not really caring much about representing your actual district would likely become a thing of the past.

This could be done by a Charter amendment.  It might be a good idea to establish a Charter review committee to look at this possibility as well as other areas of the Charter that may need attention.  I don't think there has been an overall examination of the Charter in a systematic basis for years.  If we are going to make a "big thing" about our Centennial in 2013, an effort like this would be one way to acknowledge that milestone in a proactive way.