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Huntington Council Voting on City Charter Amendments, Public Input Tonight
The four proposals in full can be downloaded as PDF attachments. They range from altering the Public Works Director engineering license to a "may," improving the perceptions for oversight related to the city's vehicles (motor pool), allowing 120 days (up from 60) for "interim" appointments, and altering the "title" of Director of Finance and Administration to "city manager."
At the Thursday work session, none of the four attracted discussion, other than the underscoring of how the proposals alter words not government.
Word by word, strict , literal l interpretation of the 1985 written City Charter has torched many fueled sometimes nearly out of order debates on meaning. The document has etched discussions that have vague reminders to Bible phrases (often out of context) that have spawned denomination splits.
Without taking sides --- and splitting reasoning --- when determining a legal interpretation, a court's declaratory judgement is the manner to settle massive disagreements.
For better or worse, governmental judicial interpretations began as plain language and become application of law.
WV until earlier this year retained a civil tort for "criminal conversation." Translation: A civil remedy for a wife's adultery. The courts have refused to enforce (or permit) suits based on the tort. The state formally abolished the broader alienation of affection decades ago.
Michael Smith's "Law Blog" from the Wall Street Journal (http://smithblawg.blogspot.com/2014/06/west-virginia-high-court-statutor...) had in 2014 to determine in Golden v. Kaufman application of matrimonial torts. A newspaper reported that the state Supreme Court rendered "criminal conversation" obsolete based on the abolition of the affection statute.
Smith argues that the court overstepped its power.
Returning to the City Charter, which is the city's Constitution, it does not often have the benefit of a branch of law dedicated to its interpretation.
Council will likely vote to put all four matters on the ballot.
Too bad, various other cloudy matters can not be resolved by a simple hand shake and a , "what does this now mean" in legalese? And, how must discretion can be afforded based on "good faith?" (broadly meaning strategical determinations).
What's left unfilled raises a further inquiry: Since the tasks are being accomplished, does not the City benefit through salary and benefit savings? If as the city attorney interpreted, it's a "will and pleasure" appointment of the Mayor, where's the smoking gun --- other than the technical strictness impeding flexibility?
- Proposed Huntington City Charter Amedments (524.48 KB)