Charter Committee gets down to work

By Frank Lewis -

The new Portsmouth Charter Review Committee is in the process of looking over the City Charter as ordered by the Charter itself.

“They meet once a month – the first Wednesday at 5 (p.m.) o’clock at city hall in the Engineering Office,” First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson said.

“They are to review the Charter and recommend any changes they perceive that need top be made and make that recommendation to Council,” Johnson said. “Council will take that under advisement.”

Johnson said he hopes the city will take the recommendations under consideration, unlike what he said happened in 1996, and pass them on to Portsmouth voters.

“I can’t speak for all other members of Council, but in 1996, that Council sat on that,” Johnson said. “I brought forward all those recommendations from 1996. That Council at the time simply didn’t do anything. We don’t want to see that again.”

It is now in the City Charter that at a minimum of every ten years a committee to deal with the Charter be formed.

“We are depending upon them to advise us and we’ll pass it onto the voters,” Johnson said. “Any change to the Charter has to go to the voters, always.”

The committee, made up of Chairman Richard Schisler, Vice Chairman Ann Sydnor, Steve Rhodeheffer, Eddie Edwards, Larry Essman and Bill Shope, has had one meeting.

“At the meeting three weeks ago, I had hoped we would get through 29 sections, which was a bit ambitious,” Schisler said. “We got through 11.” Schisler said there are 168 sections to the Charter.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, May 3 at 5 p.m. in the City Engineer’s Office.

“Council passed an ordinance in 2016 creating the committee,” Schisler said. “Each (City Council) member appoints a member. All meetings shall be open to the public.”

What is the committee being charged to do?

“To go through the Charter and make any recommendations that we feel would be appropriate,” Schisler said.

By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.