Every 10 years, a commission is supposed to consider possible changes to the King County Charter. The group, headed by former King County Councilors Mike Lowry (also former Guv if you're keeping score) and Lois North, has been meeting for more than a year.
Today the commission brought ten proposed changes to the charter itself and two additional recommendations, brought after months of heated debate at their regular gatherings over boxed lunches. The biggest sticking point was the role of the Sheriff in bargaining. Sue Rahr has taken a lot of heat over the unbecoming conduct of her deputies, including a multi-part series in the PI. She complains that her power to enforce rules or fire problem deputies is hindered by the guild agreements and arbitration, both of which fall under the sole jurisdiction of the Executive's office.
Rahr wanted to have bargaining power and arbitrator selection put in her hands, but the review commission stopped well short, leaving bargaining power with the exec. But they did throw Rahr, and other department heads who may not like how Sims or any other County Executive handles their employee contracts, requiring the Executive to consult with the department head. If differences of opinion cannot be resolved, the guidance of the King County Council must be sought. (Though if this amendment is actually adopted, there is nothing that would require the Executive to follow the Council's advice either.)
Rahr's office is formulating their reaction; an update is expected tomorrow.
This is still only the playoffs to the main Charter Change event: the November election. These could all still be changed or axed before the voters even have a chance to weigh in. Now that it's with the Council, county government is doing what it does best--holding hearings. The next public hearing on the amendments hosted by the Council is set for Mon. June 16 at the Federal Way Community Center. More info here.
The final list is after the jump.* Expand the anti-discrimination hiring rules to include disability, sexual orientation and sexual expression.
* Give the County Council an extra 20 days to review the Executive's proposed budget (hoping they might actually read the thing.)
* Increase the signature threshold for citizen initiatives to change the County charter to 20 percent of registered voters who cast a ballot in the previous Executive race.
* Make the Charter Review Commission selection process more public.
* Designate an additional 100,000 acres for open space protection.
* Allow the County Council to establish additional qualifications for elected officials who head charter-based departments. (Another sticky one between Rahr and Sims.)
* Give the regional committees (don't know what they are, you probably aren't on one then) a little more clout and reduce the number of Councilors on them.
* Create a high-ranking position in the Executive branch to represent the interests of unincorporated areas.
* And finally, that messy collective bargaining amendment.
Additional recommendations include:
* Removing the requirement that county agencies submit spending estimates to the Executive's office (no one believes these are actually read or useful.)
* Removing obsolete language related to our Metro agreements.
* Making library improvement a priority.
* Establishing a citizens commission in 2010 to re-examine the possibility of switching to ranked voting (which should be good(ish) news to Weekly columnist Krist Novoselic.)