Thursday, May 3, 2012

Charter Review Commision Wants Your Views

The Montgomery County Charter Review Commission wants your comments on a variety of issues to determine if the current system of County Government adequately addresses the needs of County residents. The Commission is requesting comments be submitted no later than June 30.

General comments are also welcome, but the Commission is seeking community input on the following issues: (1) if the Charter should allow a special hiring authority for people with disabilities; (2) whether the Charter should be amended to provide for the removal of a Councilmember for a serious violation of the Ethics law; and (3) if the Council should have a Council President that is elected by the voters to a four-year term.

Special Hiring Authority

Persons with disabilities face persistent barriers to employment, including some employers’ presumptions about persons with disabilities, the structure of jobs and the personal circumstances of the job seeker. The Commission is considering whether to amend the Charter to allow a special hiring authority for people with disabilities. Under the special hiring authority, a hiring manager could directly hire a person with a disability into a merit system position and bypass the typical merit system hiring process. Applicants would still need to possess the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the position.

Removal of a Councilmember

The Charter provides for the removal of a Councilmember, after a public hearing is held, if at least six Councilmembers find that the Councilmember is unable to perform the duties of the office because of a physical or mental disability. The Commission is considering whether to expand the reasons for removal to include removal for a serious violation of the ethics law.

Council President Election and Term

Currently, the Council President is elected to a one-year term and the Charter requires the Council to elect a President from among its members. The Commission is considering whether the President should be elected by the voters and whether the term should be longer than one year. Related issues, such as whether a popularly elected President should be a district or at-large member, have arisen.

Mission of the Charter Review Commission

The Charter is the constitutional framework for County government. Charter Section 509 provides for an 11-member Charter Review Commission to study the Montgomery County Charter. The Commission must report to the Council in May 2014 with recommendations for possible Charter revisions. These recommendations may lead to proposed Charter amendments that are voted on by the electorate in November 2014.
The current members of the Commission are: Molly Mahoney Matthews, Chair; Mark Feinroth, Vice Chair; Jeannie Cho; Diane Nash Dillon; Wendell Holloway; Guled Kassim; Thomas King; and Albert Pearce.

If you want to present your opinions on the issues listed above or are interested in recommending additional issues for the Commission, submit your recommendations to: Charter Review Commission, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850. You can also e-mail your comments to Get your comments in by June 30.

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