Santa Rosa gets ready to begin review of city charter

Santa Rosa is preparing for an exhaustive review of the structure of its government, one that could include anything from how council members and the mayor are elected to what type of pensions city workers should receive.

The City Council will take the first step toward forming a Charter Review Committee at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

Each council member will eventually appoint three members to the committee, which is expected to take five months to complete its review of the city. Suggested changes would likely go before voters in November 2012, though a special election could be held sooner.

Mayor Ernesto Olivares wants to appoint local attorney Michael Senneff to chair the committee, citing his experience. Senneff chaired the committee in 1994 and again in 2002. The city is required to review the charter every 10 years.

The previous committee recommended three changes for the November 2002 ballot aimed at increasing diversity in city politics.

Measure L proposed appointments to city boards and commissions be made by individual council members rather than the council as a whole.

Measure M recommended a 150 percent increase in salary for City Council members, allowing more people to afford to serve.

Measure O proposed campaign finance reform.

Measures O and L passed, while Measure M was defeated.

This time around, the commission has a host of issues it could tackle. Fowler's staff report lists eight.

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