Issue 13 Oberlin Charter Amendment

Issue Number 13 Proposed Charter Amendment

Oberlin City

A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage.

Shall Section III (F) of the Charter of the City of Oberlin be amended to authorize the City Council to enact legislation to prescribe the conduct of its meetings as an alternative to the provisions of state law? (Ballot language)

If passed, Section III(F) of the Oberlin City Charter will read as follows:

(FULL TEXT) SECTION III. COUNCIL

F. Meetings and Organization. During the Hirst regular meeting in January following each regular municipal election, Council shall meet for the purpose of organization. Thereafter Council shall meet at such times as may be prescribed by its rules, regulations, ordinances and bylaws; but it shall hold regular meetings at least twice during the calendar months of the year, with the exception of the months of July and August, during each of which months Council may at its discretion dispense with one of its regular meetings. All meetings of the Council, whether regular or special, shall be open to the public except as is otherwise authorized by State law. Meetings of Council shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of State law or as may otherwise be prescribed by Ordinance of Council approved by at least a 5/7th majority of its members and provided that said Ordinance shall assure that the public is able to hear and observe the discussions and deliberations of all of the participating members of Council.

Explanation

The purpose of this proposed Charter amendment is to secure the City’s home rule authority to conduct its meetings as deemed appropriate. Currently, Oberlin’s Charter requires that all meetings of Council be conducted in accordance with state law. Existing state law requires the physical presence of the members of Council to vote and to be counted for purposes of a quorum. The intent of this charter amendment is to allow flexibility. Council could enact legislation, for example, to meet electronically as it has over the past year under state legislative authority, if a situation arises that would warrant it. That is, it provides a mechanism through which a future Council may wish to exercise home rule authority. Aside from the safety concerns presented by the current pandemic, there may be other reasons for a future Council to enact legislation to authorize the conduct of its meetings, in whole or in part, utilizing electronic technology. This charter amendment does not allow meetings to be held electronically, but it allows Council to pass enabling legislation should the need arise. If and when that should happen, the public would have a say in crafting the enabling ordinance. In addition, public access to and public participation in all open meetings of Council are always assured and the conduct of meetings would always be in accordance with Council Rules.