Forcing Charter to meet

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By Robin Bass

The Charter Commission must reconvene, said Attorney Carol Petitt, and she’s asking a Spencer County court to make it happen.

“They never should have stopped. They are required by statute to meet and they are violating the law,” said Petitt, a lawyer with KACo (Kentucky Association of Counties).

In a motion filed in Spencer County Circuit Court, Petitt argued that the Charter government commission is required by Kentucky law to come up with a comprehensive plan. She also stated that it is because of that statute that the commission must be required to hold regularly scheduled meetings.

The Charter Commission voted February 19 to suspend all meetings until the highest court ruled on the legality of the statute. They again made a similar motion June 17 which passed 16 -12.

“(Petitt) is trying to get the commission to do something that twice they voted not to do,” said Attorney Sam Carl, who represents the City of Taylorsville along with Attorney Bill Stewart.

Carl described Petitt’s motion for injunctive relief as undemocratic. He said that Kentucky’s statute allowing for the formation of charter governments lacks legitimacy and does not give sufficient guidance for those it was designed to help.

Having a court force a voting body to reconvene “seems to violate some basic tenements of our government,” said Stewart.

Petitt said in her motion that the Charter Commission is mandated, or ordered by law, to develop a comprehensive plan. In that blueprint must be provisions for the new government’s form, structure, functions and powers. There must be descriptions of officers, their duties and procedures spelled out for amending the plan in the future.

If the commission is to have this plan ready to be on the ballot by November 2010, Petitt said that leaves only 20 monthly meetings (December 2008 - July 2010) left in which to work. By law the plan must be submitted to the county clerk by August 2010 to be on the ballot.

Attorneys Carl and Stewart are scheduled to have their response to the motion filed by December 2. A court hearing on the matter will be held in Spencer County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. December 18. Judge Charles Hickman will be presiding.