Charter panel goes to work

STEUBENVILLE -The Charter Review Commission selected retired Common Pleas Judge John J. Mascio to serve as chairman of the nine-member board and scheduled its next meeting for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.

“I am pleased to serve on the Charter Review Commission, and we will approach this review carefully. We will make sure everyone has enough time to make suggestions as well as having their opinions heard,” Mascio said following a 30-minute organizational meeting Monday night.

Rikki Kamarados was picked to serve as secretary of the commission.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci guided the commission members through their organizational meeting and urged the group to invite City Council members, the mayor to provide testimony “and maybe the Jefferson County Commissioners who can talk about their interaction with the city.”

“You may want to interview members of the city administration as well as city employees along with citizen groups and individual citizens,” added Mucci.

Mucci’s proposed timeline calls for all hearings to be completed by May 2014.

“You may find out the language may be satisfactory. Or you may hear suggestions about changes. This is a review commission. You are not here to change the form of city government,” explained Mucci.

Mucci also said the commission should forward any proposed changes to City Council by July, so the proposed changes can appear on the November 2014 general election ballot.

The city charter was reviewed in 1987 and 1992.

Council approved the nine people recommended by Mucci to serve on the charter review commission earlier this month.

Mucci recommended Jacqueline Platt, Aldo Isadore, Louise Holliday, Mascio, Priscilla Demjan, James Mavromatis, Kamarados, Patrick Riley and James Baber to the commission that is expected to hold meetings, hear testimony and suggestions on amending the charter that initially was approved by city voters and implemented in 1984.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul raised the idea of a charter review commission at a February council meeting.

During the discussions in February and March, Mucci suggested the commission members not include current city employees, no elected officials, no city board or commission members and no persons doing business with the city.

Council voted 5-2 in favor of creating the charter review commission at the March 26 council meeting.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf and 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs opposed the resolution at the March meeting citing the time was not right for a charter review.

Mucci said all nine commission members have received a copy of the city’s charter.