Charter Change Checklist

A survey of a large sample of Richardson residents shows deep and widespread concern for the process and revisions being hand crafted by the attorney city officials have relied upon the past several decades.  Recognized for tenacious defence of questionable actions by public servants and mangled, wildly plausible interpretations and applications of statutes, this defender of the public trust has been tapped to ramrod the language for the upcoming charter change election.  True to form, the process underway all but blocks any substantive public involvement, relying on long-known cohorts and cronies to play the role of representative for Richardson citizens.  Meanwhile, the bully tactics and practice of public humiliation cowers and intimidates otherwise concerned citizens from challenging the people who pledged their loyalty in exchange for a position of authority.

The unofficial survey asked Richardson citizens what modifications to the Richardson City Charter would best serve the public.  Here's the outcome:

  1. Single member district election of Council members.  Bring Richardson up to date with the rest of Texas.  Each district will elect its own representative rather than continue the practice of allowing the power brokers and their cronies to designate a loyalist for each seat on the City Council.
  2. All contracts with government entities must include a certificate of interested parties listing everyone with a financial interest regarding the contract and/or business familial relationship with any public official or employee.
  3. Personal financial statements of public officials updated quarterly and posted on the Richardson city web site.
  4. Four year period of prohibition from lobbying after public officials and employees leave office.
  5. Prohibition of insider trading based on information obtained through public service.
  6. Public disclosure of agenda and minutes of all meetings held closed to the public upon any action or inaction executed relative to items deliberated.
  7. Public election of the Municipal Judge.  The position of Municipal Judge should be elected by the people, therefore not being beholden to the City Council and its public servants along with others entrenched in city affairs.
  8. Prohibition of certificates of obligation to be "refunded" using appropriations that have yet to be authorized by public election.  Appropriating funds yet to be approved by voters is gambling.  The current prohibition on refinancing debt should be extended to include "refunding" debt, i.e. paying off a certificate of obligation with funds from the sale of bonds presumed to be authorized in a future election.  Appropriations to finance certificates of obligation must be from current assets that have been authorized by the voters.
  9. Full disclosure of current debt, cost of debt on new bonds, specific projects to be funded, who is paid and the amounts of any management fees, and use of any surplus funds after projects have been completed.  See Your Money and Local Debt, a report by the Texas Comptroller for details.
  10. Annaul reporting of any payments received by public employees, or public officials paid through public contracts or sources.
  11. Annual reporting of individuals compensated through retirement contributions, total retirement compensation and details of the status and health of the employee retirement system.
  12. Prohibit real estate transactions involving public land for the benefit of private enterprise.  Stop the practice of using public funds and code compliance prosecutions to acquire land and property for the purpose of city building initiatives instigated through use of secret meetings and negotiations.  Block the practice of secret agreements and decisions on use of real estate.  Release any an all records relating to past deals and transactions.
  13. Public elections for disposition and use of any and all public land.  Citizens of Richardson should not be excluded from the decision process or prevented from providing public input on matters involving the sale and use of land held in the public trust.  No second party entity, such as the Richardson Improvement Corporation should be enabled to engage in secret deals or sheltering real estate transactions involving public property.  Any property transaction funded or facilitated using public resources, including any time or talent of any public servant of the City should be first disclosed to the public and then decided through a public election process.
  14. Manditory public auction of any parcel of public land.  Richardson city officials avoid the statutes that mandate public auction for disposal of public land by facilitating and funding purchases and sales through the Richardson Improvement Corporation (RIC).  The RIC and its board of top level Richardson public officials shall not be enabled to use public funding to execute arms-length transactions to avoid the public auction statute.
  15. Prohibit overcharging for public utilities and services and the subsequent transfer or "sweeping" of surplus revenues into the General Fund.  Any surplus funds from utility and service revenues should be applied to the maintenance, repair or improvement of that specific utility or service, or be refunded to those who were overcharged.  Rate adjustments should reflect the financial requirements for the service.
  16. Sunset all initiatives.  Periodic review of the viability and value of every program, project, or initiative to which any public resource is applied.
  17. Disclosure of anciliary payments from any aspect of public business to anyone on the public payrol.  Show management fees taken from bond money, project management fees paid to, and other like payments to public employees over and above the compensation paid for their official position.
  18. Prohibit the sell back of sick days or vacation time by public employees.

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