GREEN Voters in Green will soon decide whether they want the law director position to continue to be appointed by the mayor and then approved by City Council, or to make the position elected by the people.
Issue 14, a petition driven effort, would change the city’s charter to allow for voters to select the law director. The issue also sets requirements for the candidate, one of which they must be a resident of Green. Candidates would also have to be a licensed attorney with five years of experience.
Political Action Committees have formed on both sides of the issue. Citizens for Responsible Green Government is behind the issue and support the change, and Residents for Effective Green Government are against the issue and change.
Citizens for Responsible Green Government turned in 1,193 signatures after more than five months of gathering signatures to get the issue placed on the ballot.
"Voting in favor of Issue 14 for an independent elected law director is a common-sense amendment to Green’s City Charter," Citizens for Responsible Green Government said in a prepared statement. "Green needs an independent law director who is not at the beck and call of the mayor and will enforce and defend our city charter and provide impartial legal advice to Green City Council. The city’s history has demonstrated that the appointed law directors have been little more than a mayor’s personal attorney, rarely opposing anything that any mayor has wanted to do."
Those against the Issue 14 said, for starters, nothing is broken for the issue to fix.
"Our system of local government was drafted by a team of 14 elected community leaders and has served us well for 26 years," Residents for Effective Green Government said in a prepared statement. "Further, the normal public process for amending our charter is only months away, but Issue 14 was cooked up behind closed doors with the public kept in the dark, and we believe forcing it onto the ballot now is an effort to pull a fast one on voters."
Secondly, the group believes if the issue passes, it will play politics within the law department.
"Issue 14 would replace qualified legal professionals with political hacks and a politician law director beholden to developers and party bosses," Residents for Effective Green Government said.
Those opposing the issue also said the issue is a reckless waste of tax dollars.
"Green's hardworking taxpayers with an unknown, unlimited, and unending drain of our limited resources," Residents for Effective Green Government said. "We believe it is unfair to ask taxpayers to pay more, only to get less government efficiency and accountability."
Those in favor of Issue 14 said having a residency requirement will allow the new law director to have a pulse on the community and understanding of the residents’ needs.
Many who oppose Issue 14 said the reason the issue is on the ballot is because of the NEXUS Pipeline and those near it who are upset.
"We believe that perennial obstructionist David Mucklow and his disciples are taking advantage of the NEXUS Pipeline issue to fool voters into supporting a naked political power grab," Residents for Effective Green Government said. "Elected Green leaders past and present from both parties are opposing this dangerous power grab and we urge Green voters to do the same."
Citizens for Responsible Green Government said that is completely a myth.
"One of the myths surrounding Issue 14 is that this issue is being completely driven by anti-NEXUS, angry residents," Citizens for Responsible Green Government said. "While it's true that NEXUS likely pushed many of our 1,000 plus neighbors who signed the petition to seek out the initiative, there has been a longstanding issue with appointed law directors in Green standing up for mayors over the public or even City Council. Issue 14 is a long time coming. Efforts have been made in the past to change the city charter, but it never happened because the Charter Commission Members are appointed by the mayor."
Those against Issue 14 have also taken issue with the number of qualified candidates.
Citizens for Responsible Green Government said earlier that there were around 390 candidates in the zip codes in Green, but they know some included may live outside of Green and some may be inactive.
"There are also many Green lawyers not included on the registry because they are registered under their work address," Citizens for Responsible Green Government said. "In every community bigger or smaller than Green, someone steps up to run for the office."
The group said if no one runs for the position, then the mayor can appoint a law director.
Residents for Effective Green Government disagree with the numbers and said there are certainly not 390 candidates in Green qualified to be the law director.
"How many qualified candidates will be interested in a position with term limits and without defined hours requirements or a determined salary," Residents for Effective Green Government said. "The poor drafting of this initiative leaves so many unknowns that it is doubtful that any qualified lawyer will seek election but that might be what the drafters are counting on as the initiative includes language stating that if a vacancy occurs, City Council instead of the mayor will appoint the law director. This boils down to a political power grab by a minority on City Council."