RELEASE: Zimmerman proposes 2 City Charter amendments to make City Manager, City Attorney more accountable to taxpayers
Tue October 25 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct. 24, 2016 Contact: Andy Hogue, Campaign Liaison for Austinites for Don Zimmerman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimmerman proposes amendments to Austin City Charter to require affirmative vote for City Manager every 2 years, have City Attorney report directly to Council
AUSTIN, Texas — Long a critic of the bureaucracy in Austin City government, City Councilman Don Zimmerman, incumbent candidate for City Council District 6, is offering proposed amendments to the Austin City Charter.
These amendments would require the City Manager to be proactively reappointed by the City Council every 2 years as well as make the City Attorney to report directly to the Council.
The first proposed amendment would establish a fixed, 2-year term of appointment by the Council for the City Manager. This would require the City Manager to be proactively reappointed by the Council during January in odd-numbered years. (Currently, the City Manager simply remains in his or her job indefinitely unless, and until, he or she voluntarily resigns or is forcibly removed by a herculean effort of the City Council.) Under the proposed Charter amendment, if the Council did not vote to keep the City Manager, then the City Manager would be removed from his/her duties.
Said Zimmerman: “The City Manager is the most powerful person in City government. The manager has control of over 12,000 employees. By having Council vote in the affirmative every two years to keep the City Manager (or not) shifts some of that power to the elected Council by making the city manager decision part of every two-year election”.
The second proposed amendment to the Charter would be to have the City Attorney report directly to City Council. This is similar to a proposition that failed in the 2012 election by less than 1 percent of the vote.
“The City Attorney holds tremendous influence over elected Council through attorney-client executive session meetings behind closed doors, and other routine communications not open to public information requests,” Zimmerman noted. “Misguided legal advice costs the city budgets – and our constituents – millions of dollars, and reorients elected council members view away from the interest of constituents and towards the interests of staff bureaucrats. The City Attorney should answer directly to elected Council instead of directly to the already too powerful City Manager.”
Zimmerman is also disclosing a remarkable “attorney-client” letter from city legal written in response to Zimmerman representing a River Place water utility customer at an Austin Water Utility hearing. It is attached below, and may also be requested from the campaign.
Both proposed Charter Amendments suggest a citywide referendum be held on Nov. 7, 2017. In order to be placed before Austin voters, either the City Council must offer proposed amendments to the City Charter or signatures of Austin registered voters must be gathered to propose any such amendments. The last Charter amendment election was November 6, 2012, which created the new 10-1 City Council.