Charter commission appointed

A committee of aldermen has finally selected 14 city residents to review New Haven’s charter.

The Charter review commission, which includes three aldermen and several lawyers who are familiar with municipal law, will weigh several proposals that could fundamentally change the nature of city government. The commission may consider a reduction in the size of the Board of Aldermen and a change in the length of the city’s mayoral term.

The full Board of Aldermen, which may add a maximum 15th member to the panel, must approve the makeup of the commission at its next meeting April 1.

Alderwoman Lindy Lee Gold, who heads the committee that made the selections, said she thought the commission was diverse “in every way possible.”

“A lot of thought went into making this a balanced but capable committee,” Gold said. “It is as diverse as we could get — I actually made three separate requests to my colleagues on the board to get recommendations.”

Gold said the committee attempted to choose residents who represented the diversity of the city’s neighborhoods.

Gold, a Democrat, Republican Alderwoman Nancy Ahern and Green Party Alderwoman Joyce Chen will represent the city’s legislative body on the commission, which could have included as many as five elected officials.

New Haven Corporation Counsel Thomas Ude, the city’s top lawyer, will also serve on the panel along with James Cohen and Joseph Corradino, both of whom are former municipal corporation counselors.

Gold said the number of lawyers on the commission who have experience with charter revision may eliminate the need to hire an outside, independent counsel.

The commission will also include Nelson Cruz of Fair Haven, former Ward 11 Alderman Edward Clifford, Gwen Newton of Newhallville, Eduardo Perez of East Rock, Patricia McCann-Vissepo, Shawn Garris of Fair Haven Heights, the Rev. Ross Lee, and Cathy Graves.

The city must review the Charter every 10 years. Under the state law that governs municipal charter review, the commission has 18 months to complete its task.

Gold said she hopes to put any proposed changes before city voters this fall, meaning the commission would have to complete its work by June.

“I am insistent that our charter be written in plain speak — that it be written in broad strokes and eliminate micromanagement,” she said.

The commission has been charged to consider several changes, which individual aldermen submitted in advance over the course of the last two months.

In addition to possible changes in the board’s size and the length of the mayoral term, the panel may also consider changes to city campaign finance law and the creation of a civilian review board separate from the Board of Police Commissioners.

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