NORFOLK ALERT: Proposed charter changes

City Council will meet tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17, at 2:30pm. The council agenda is here. Included on the agenda is a public hearing on charter changes, which have to be approved by the General Assembly. You can read the proposed changes in this pdf.

Of particular concern to me is the change in sections 32 and 35, which increases the minimum number of signatures required for petition from 4,000 to 8,000. This unfairly raises the bar on citizen input. One of the largest petition drives ever undertaken by the citizens was that relating to Bay Oaks Park.  That petition garnered 5,376 signatures. More recently, the residents of Highland Park undertook a similar petition, gathering over 5,000 signatures.

I urge any who can attend tomorrow afternoon’s council meeting to do so and to urge council to reject this attempt to silence Norfolk voters.

If you cannot make the meeting, call, fax or email your council representatives. Their contact information is here. We need to stop this before it goes to Richmond for approval.

Other changes to the charter being proposed:

  • Allowing a salary supplement for the Director of Public Health. That we continue to add more people to the city payroll at a time when the city is stressed financially makes little sense to me.
  • Removal of the recall process. The entire section related to recall of members of council (as well as references to it) are being removed. The Virginia Code § 24.2-230 et seq, and § 24.2-233 in particular, will be controlling. Interesting that the charter section being removed had a requirement of a minimum of 300 signatures on the recall petition while the Code has no minimum. Also interesting is that no reason was required for the recall under the charter but the Code has specific requirements (neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties).

One more interesting tidbit: I didn’t see the announcement in the newspaper and it’s not included in the pdf, where it was supposed to be attached as Exhibit B. But if the description of the charter changes were as per the agenda, I doubt if anyone would have known the contents, anyway. Perhaps the General Assembly could make the requirement that public notices be in plain language.

UPDATE: Brian over at Bearing Drift points out that requiring 8,000 signatures is almost as many votes as were cast in the last municipal election.  Bryan at Left of the Hill points out that only 10,000 signatures are required for statewide candidates for office!

13 thoughts on “NORFOLK ALERT: Proposed charter changes

      1. Called all the council members. The ones who picked up said they just found out about it and that it was written by the city attorney. I called the City Attorney, asked who was the genius who decided to take away my rights, and then he said thanks for disparaging her intelligence, thanks for the call, and then he hung up on me.

  1. As one who is organizing a petition drive in Virginia Beach, I can certainly sympathize with the Norfolk residents.
    However, watch out for a red herring. With May elections forthcoming, it might be a tidbit that is planned to be turned down to create favor with the electorate. With all the short-comings Norfolk City Council has been accused of, a little diversionary smoke is a great deception to mask past transgressions.

  2. Good for you, Viv.

    The blogs have become so full of partisan crap over he last year, they are fast becoming worthless.

    It is refreshing to see some real content along with your call to action.

    Just a factoid from someone who has been a foot soldier in many petition gathering efforts: A full day at a high traffic location may yield only eighty signatures, depending on the issue. By doubling the minimum, citizens would need to either hire a petition signature gathering firm, or have an army of volunteers with a very long lead time.

    Perhaps you can talk about the lack of content at that group hug that will be held over at CNU. So many of the blogs have blocked posts from those who do not parrot their party line, they have become mere propaganda, while others just spout whatever they found on the various news services.

    We need blog posts like this one, where someone local is delivering useful, local information, and not just re-posting some idiotic YouTube video, or their Party talking points.

    1. Could not agree more. Besides Avenging Archangel, Vivian’s is the only local blog with educational content on it. Everything else is so partisan and even when they do make a good point, its not backed up by anything. You always see Vivian posting code sections and the like.

  3. Way to go Vivian! It is nice to see swift alerts to the growth of authoritarian “Big Government”.

    I wish the TLP had a larger Norfolk presence. Were that the case, we may be voting differently, but we would be on the same side on issues like these. Also stuff like city gov spying inside homes for tax assessments.

Comments are closed.