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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2009

Toledo City Council member issues new call to cut panel's size

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Webb Webb
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Toledo City Councilman Lindsay Webb Friday resurrected an idea to reduce the number of seats on council and also suggested letting voters elect a city attorney who would be independent from the mayor or council.

"If we want to restore the balance of power in Toledo city government, some changes to the structure of government are necessary," Ms. Webb said. "It is time that serious charter discussions take place and necessary changes are made to restore balance and confidence."

Last year, the Toledo Charter Revision Committee was prepared to seek a reduction in seats on council.

Ms. Webb said it's time to solicit public input on the idea, which would be subject to voter approval.

The charter revision committee last year suggested three options:

•Eliminating each of the six at-large council seats, creating an all-district council.

•Maintaining the six district seats and reducing the number of at-large seats from six to three.

•Leaving the six district seats in place and creating three "superdistrict" seats. Each superdistrict councilman would represent two districts.

According to Ms. Webb, none of the at-large councilmen lived in District 4, and only one - current Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken - lived for a short time in District 6.

Ms. Webb said she probably wouldn't have support from council or the Finkbeiner administration to change the makeup of council or make the city attorney an elected position.

She said the mayor's refusal to report his $14.2 million budget-balancing plan to council's committee of the whole Thursday morning spurred her proposal.

"It became abundantly clear Thursday morning that there is an imbalance of power," Ms. Webb said.

Toledo City Council President Mark Sobczak encouraged discussion of her suggestions.

"Anytime that the citizens are engaged in how they are governed is a good thing," Mr. Sobczak said. "Certainly the city has had a couple different systems now and I guess the jury is out now as to which one is better."

Altering the makeup of council would require amending the city charter. Putting a proposed charter amendment on the ballot requires either a two-thirds vote of council or a resident's initiative petition.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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