Charter amendments for Fort Myers

Warren Wright

Photo: Video by

Charter amendments for Fort Myers

CREATED Aug. 5, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla.- It's a question of access.  

Right now, if an elected official wants to go over issues with a department head, like crime in a neighborhood with the police chief, a councilmember can only do it with permission from the city manger.
And the mayor feels like that process is just to slow.
Mayor Randy Henderson wanted to see if the city council was interested in making any changes in the city charter.
In particular, the city manager is considered by some on the council to keep too tight a fist on communication between staff and elected leaders. 
Mayor Henderson fears that's hindering his ability to serve the public.
Henderson stated that "if we have an opportunity to get direct feedback from the senior leadership of the police department., perhaps the fire department.  i believe we can make better decisions."
The mayor wanted to see if there is a way to change the flow of information by way of amending the city charter.
In fact, Henderson brought in an outside attorney to the meeting to see if that could be accomplished.
The response was... not really.  
The charter states explicitly that employees are under the direct supervision of the city manager.
The rest of the council agreed and did not make any motion to alter the charter.
Levon Simms pointed out that "the people said they wanted a city manager and its our duty to say
OK this is what the people said.. and this is the way we are going to go."
Despite what the charter says, several council members did express their discontent with the city managers management style.
They claim he limits their communication with staff.  
Both councilman Forest Banks and councilman Mike Flanders shared that frustration in support of the mayor.
The mayor pointed out how something as simple as talking to the police chief can take you down a  rabbit hole.
Henderson added that "its an awkward position... because i get no feedback from the chief... and no joint feedback from the manager."
The council did agree they were going to clarify language in the charter on candidates qualifying for elections and weather or not the city council will have, not only the power to appoint,  but also have the ability to terminate the city attorney.
Those issues will come to a vote at the next election.
Warren Wright