Sunday, March 7, 2010

Local Publication Questions Dowagiac Michigan City Charter

March 5th
Dowagiac City Charter
The Dowagiac City Charter was voted on by residents November 3rd 1964 by the residents of Dowagiac and made effected April 12th 1965.
We are going to give you a brief history of the Dowagiac City Charter and let you decide if the City of Dowagiac is following the rules set by the voters of Dowagiac.
Amendments: section 1.1
This charter may be amended at any time in the manner provided by law. Should two or more amendments adopted at the same Election have conflicting provisions, the amendment receiving the largest vote shall prevail.
I am no attorney but this makes it sound that any changes made to this charter needs to be voted on my the residents of Dowagiac.
Keep this in in mind as you are reading the rest of this article and you decide if the charter if being followed.

Penalties for violations of Charter: Section 1.9
Any person found guilty of any violations of this charter may be punished by a fine which, in addition to court costs, shall not exceed $500.00 , of imprisonment for not more than 90 days.
If this rule was enforced we wouldn't need the increase in the water bill to pay for road repairs.

Permitted and other powers: Section 2.2
To provide for the public welfare by: Regulating trade and amusements which are detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of its inhabitants.
The city council regulating trade? Does this mean that the council has a say on what businesses can operate in Dowagiac?
We would like to know what the council uses as a guideline for regulating the morals of the City of Dowagiac.

To establish and reasonably control streets, alleys and public places Section 3 (V)
Compelling all persons to keep the sidewalk which are in the area of streets immediately to the premises owned, or occupied by them, free from snow, ice, dirt….
Although is was nice for the city to change this section without a vote of the people and offer snow plowing of the sidewalks, to change it back should only be made by a vote of the people.

The Mayor: section 5.2
Shall preside at the meeting of the council and shall have a voice in its proceedings, but no vote, except in the case of a tie, and no veto power.
Does anyone remember a tie vote from the council?

Elected Officers Section 4.1
The following people shall be elected in the City of Dowagiac, one mayor, one Supervisor at large, one clerk, one treasurer, six councilman, to justices of the peace, three supervisors, being one from each ward, and three constables being one from each ward.
According to the charter the charter cannot be changed without a vote of the people. What happened to the supervisor and the justices of the peace positions? How did the city change this part of the charter without a vote of the people?

The Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tempore Section 5.2 ©
He shall preside at meetings of the council and shall have a voice in its proceedings, but no vote, except in case of a tie, and no veto power..
The Mayor of Dowagiac is a figure head position and has no power to do anything at the city except as outlined above.

Rules Section 5.7
On all votes, the yes and no votes vote of each member shall be recorded by roll call and published in the regular proceedings.
In all the years I have attended meetings I have heard the mayor ask all in favor of a vote but never heard him ask if anyone is opposed.

Investigations Section 5.10
The council or any person or committee authorized by it shall have power to inquire into the conduct of any department, office, or officer of the city.
I requested them to honor this part of the charter when pedophile William Nelson had children's school records in his possession once again the charter was not followed.

Compensation Section 5.4
Each member of the council shall be compensated in the amount of one-hundred dollars annually, except the Mayor who shall receive three hundred dollars annually.
This amount raised by a vote of the people on 11/8/66 just 6 months after the charter was written. Seems like it was all about the money even then.
Why is it that when it came to getting a pay increase the city followed the charter and went before the voters, but when they decide not to follow the charter they have failed to bring it before voters?

Quorum Section 5.6
Four members of the council shall be a quorum for the transaction of business and the vote of four members shall be required for any official action of the council.
This section has been ignored by the council a few times. Could it be because they knew how the missing councilman would have voted in advance?

Supervisors Section 5.29
The supervisors of the City of Dowagiac shall have the same powers and duties as the supervisors in the townships.
Who are the supervisors of Dowagiac and what are their duties? If the city did away with this position why wasn’t it approved by the voters?

Publication of Ordinances Section 6.5
The council shall make available at the office of the Clerk not less than fifty copies of the full text of any ordinance which is published by digest for FREE distribution to the public.
Ever wonder what is really in the electric ordinance? Stop by the city clerk and get your free copy

Administrative Officers Section 7.2
The administrative officers of the city shall be a City Manager, a Clerk, a Treasurer, an Assessor, a City Attorney, a Police Chief, a Health Officer, and all heads of departments.
How did the city once again change the charter and do away with the Police Chief, Fire Chief and Health Officer without a vote of the residents?

Citizenship Participation Section 13.1
To afford citizenship participation in the affairs of the city government for the purpose of determining community needs and means of meeting such needs through the government of the city, the following citizen boards shall be continued or established under this section.
Airport Board, Library Board, Cemetery Board, Parks and recreation Board, Electric Facilities Board
(B) No person shall serve on more than one board or committee.
(C) Each such board shall hold at least one meeting in each calendar quarter.
The charter is so old that it only addresses the 5 original boards which allows the city to not follow the charter rules for all the other boards that have been formed since the charter was voted in.
Many of the city boards have the same person serving on more than one board. Is this so the city can control the decisions of all the city boards? You decide.
The city has many boards that meet as needed even though the charter says quarterly

Parks and recreation Section 13.5
The city manager shall be responsible for the proper functioning of the department.
The city manager shall be responsible for the care and maintenance of the city’s parks and shall be responsible for the recreational facilities and programs of the city.
The city charter clearly states that the city is responsible for recreation programs for city residents.
Many years ago the city did offer many recreation activates from a wading pool to organized programs for youth.
The city has stated in the past that the funding ran out to offer any programs. According to the charter it is the responsibility of the city to provide funding for these programs.
Does anyone remember voting to take away the youth programs from city residents?

Disposal of the Municipal electric Plant: Section 13.10
No action shall be taken to sell, exchange, lease or in any way dispose of the municipal electric public utility or any property, easement, equipment, privilege, or asset needed to continue the operation of such utility, unless the proposition to do so is approved by three members of the board and, in addition thereto, four members of the council, and further, by a three-fifths vote of the electors of the city voting at a regular election or at a special election called for that purpose.
Here is a very clear example of the city doing whatever it wants no matter what is set forth in the city charter.
The section above clearly states that the city couldn't dispose of using the plant or sell it for scrap without bringing it before the voters.
Anybody remember voting to stop using the electric plant or vote to sell the plant for scrap?

Online Poll
Would you support a recall of Dowagiac elected officials?
Yes 78% 85 votes
No 22% 24 votes

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