Editorial: Changing the City Charter, to garner more power and dominate the Village Board?! The latest stunt by our Mayor is stunning on many levels.
Dear Neighbors and Friends of Marvin
As you’re probably aware, the actions of our Village Mayor and some of our council members has made this a tumultuous year. Unfortunately, it seems that the Mayor, with the support of some on the council, has chosen to double down. Keep in mind that the Mayor and some council members have said that they may NOT seek re-election. Therefore, they see no accountability in their actions during the current terms. The latest stunt by our Mayor is stunning at many levels...
Our Village of Marvin Charter is Marvin’s ‘Constitution’, Since 1994
When towns in North Carolina are created, they operate under State Statutes that govern a myriad of matters. These Statutes are designed to provide consistency within local government organizations. Marvin is organized under a "Mayor-Council" structure. The Village of Marvin was founded with a Village Charter based on these State Statutes.
It’s an Unusual ‘Public Hearing’ Time -
If You Truly Want to ‘Hear’ from the ‘Public’
During the last meeting the Mayor scheduled a public hearing, during a work-session meeting, This important meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, August 30 at 9 a.m. at Marvin Village Hall. This, in and of itself, is unusual. While laws don’t dictate at what time the Council can hold meetings, ‘public hearings’ – especially on major issues - have always been held in the evening. The purpose of a public hearing is to facilitate public input and participation from as many Village residents as possible.
In this case, the Mayor has chosen to hold the hearing, in the morning meeting, on a weekday when many are busy at work or getting their families to school. This schedule is guaranteed to yield a much lower level of citizen involvement– and Pollino is banking on it. Unfortunately, regardless of its unusual time of day, still qualifies as a lawful meeting time. So, this is your opportunity to provide feedback. Make no mistake. Your involvement is important!
Our Marvin Charter is Our ‘Constitution’
and the Mayor Wants to Change It - ASAP
The purpose of the public hearing is to voice your opinion about changing the Village Charter rules away from those in the State Statute (N.C.G.S. §160A-101 and 160A-102) – particularly as it pertains to how votes of the Mayor and Council members are handled.
Marvin’s Monarch: Empowering Himself with the Vote.
On Every Matter. Every Time
Under the current Statute, our Mayor (and hundreds of his peers throughout the State) are eligible to vote on various matters. However, they are ONLY allowed to vote in the event of a tie on the Council. In other words, Mayors break the tie in Marvin and throughout the State of North Carolina. Now, the Mayor has proposed to change the rules of governance. He wants to empower himself, the Mayor, to vote on EVERY matter EVERY TIME. Moreover, he wants to make the change effective immediately. The timing is important here.
Typical Process for a City Charter Change?
A Referendum: But Marvin’s Majority Is in A Rush!
While most changes to a City’s Charter, invoke a referendum on the electoral ballot, our Marvin Mayor feels public input is a superfluous and he and his Council intend to make the change effective immediately – a.s.a.p.
You may be wondering: “Why is this a big deal? The Mayor gets to break ties anyway and that’s when he should vote. So, voting every time will insure there is never a 'tie' which he would break.” This is true. So, why change now, you ask?
Wondering What Motivates the Mayor’s Amendment?
Plenary Pollino Power
Firstly, this Marvin Mayor is not motivated to build consensus, use business-leadership skills, and build relationships. He prefers to ‘rule’ by brute force. The big picture ? Granting this Marvin Mayor, the right to vote on every matter, excuses this Mayor, and all future Mayors, from having to use higher order team-building skills, relationship skills and business skills to accomplish goals. Perhaps, if we had a Mayor that naturally demonstrated these skills, this Charter change would be easier to digest. But I have yet to see an exhibition of important leadership qualities – so, surely this Mayor – who is over-inclined to stamp a foot and shake a fist - only means to use voting power to subvert thoughtful deliberation and true leadership skills.
Secondly, you recall that Councilman Ron Salimao recently resigned and the Council, per State Statute, appointed Mary Shkut to the vacated seat. He had every intention of ignoring the legal appointment and was moving to install his own pick to the open seat. The Mayor objected to Mary Shkut’s appointment and found himself on the wrong end of severe legal action. Yet, on July 10th, he attempted these actions anyway. This triggered a lawsuit against the Mayor, filed on July 22nd. Keep in mind that the Mayor spent YOUR money on legal costs to fight his very personal battle and continues to do so. After shutting down the Village and closing the Village Park to families on a holiday weekend, the Mayor has now backed down. At least temporarily, Ms. Shkut is being acknowledged as a member of Council. However, the Mayor’s obstruction to Ms. Shkut’s lawful appointment may not be over.
Thirdly, the issue of timing is important. It has come to my attention that another Council person may be resigning from the Council due to personal health issues. With this departure, the open seat would, again, be decided by the Council, following procedures in the State Statute. Despite his lamenting, the Mayor would, again, not be able to hand pick a replacement to the Marvin council. Rather, the Council, representing you the constituents, would make that pick and follow existing laws—as they did with Councilman Salimao’s replacement.
Under the Current Charter, the Mayor Has Two Options
But He Doesn’t Like Them
Under the current charter, the Mayor has two, mature, reasonable, options, but they are not what he wants. The Mayor can fight the legal process and fall prey to another one of his legal temper tantrums, and then spend more constituent money on one of his personal, political battles. Or, having now been severely chastised over the wasteful debacle occurring with Councilperson Shkut’s appointment, he could accept that we are governed by laws and accept the council appointment, per NC State laws.
The Third Option? Change the People’s
Charter to Suit Pollino’s Power Needs
While I would hope the Mayor might learn from the embarrassment of shutting down the Village down and wasting legal money, you never can tell. And why should he ‘learn’ when he can just ‘change the rules’ to suit his needs?
The Mayor doesn’t feel the Council is capable of deciding on a suitable representative. Rather, he feels entitled to be “king maker”. Never mind that hundreds of towns and villages, similar to Marvin, operate under the same State Statutes without incident. Pollino wants plenary power over appointments. So, what to do? Change the Charter!
Without the Village Charter change, the Council will operate as it does now — majority rule according to US & NC constitutional laws. BUT, if the Mayor can change the constitution of our Marvin Village, and grant himself a vote on all matters, he will empower himself to weigh-in on any prospective Council vacancy on the horizon and all his work will be done!
The Mayor scheduled a “pubic hearing”, for a vitally important Village of Marvin Charter Change, during a "work session", at 9 a.m. in the morning, on a workday, in an effort to limit ‘hearing’ from the public -- you, the constituents, the people he is supposed to be working to represent! I find it odd that an “employee” would work to keep his “boss” away from really important decisions in Village business. He, and the Council, work for us.
August 30 at 9:00 a.m. at Marvin Village Hall
I strongly encourage you to share this e-mail with your respective mailing lists and encourage their participation in the meeting. Whether or not you support this action by the Mayor, your voice regarding our Village operation, is critical to our long-term futures. Whatever the rules are, the rules are. And, everyone should play by those rules. The lack of transparency from the Mayor, and some of the Council, is disturbing. Your input -- either way -- is critical to creating government accountability.
Today's featured writer is a well-respected, long-time and engaged resident of the Village. He recently wrote an editorial on the proposed Village of Marvin Charter amendment and shared it freely with Marvin neighbors & friends. We enjoy his take and hope you will too!