Thursday, January 09, 2014

Platform, John Deeth for Charter Review Commission

The Iowa City City Council (I hate the redundant City)  has completed a mandatory decennial duty and established a commission for the review of the city's home rule charter. They're taking applications and will appoint the members, and I am, no joke, applying.

I bring a long resume of government and political experience... but I also bring a lot of baggage. So I'm I'm taking my campaign over the heads of the seven members, two of whom I'm actually on speaking terms with, and taking my message directly to You The People.

The major flaw in Iowa City's government structure is the unrepresentative makeup of the city council - specifically, the lack of any voting representation for the student body in over 30 years. Compare that to the historic OVER-representation of downtown retail, and the inevitable impact on policy. Such as No Begging In Front Of Jewelry Stores.

Middle-aged Mid-American middle managers taking one class aren't "students." I mean 19 year old undergrads in sweats and jeans. Unless they're a third of the votes at the table, their share of the population, then the Iowa City council isn't representative.

But, but "the students are only here for four years." Maybe you hope there will be zero students in town in 2018, at least until you lose your job. Individuals may go but the student community is permanent.

The Platform

Directly elected mayor is so easy even council incumbent Jim Throgmorton backs it. But take it further. Make it full time and abolish city manager. Policy should be actively made by people who answer directly to voters, not passively rubber-stamped after it's been staff-crafted the way Iowa City has done it for decades.

Elect the city attorney and chief of police like we elect the county attorney and sheriff. Put city clerk on the ballot too.

Other than those executive jobs, no one should have to win city-wide to serve. Even someone as serious and well-financed as Raj Patel couldn't draw votes outside of mid-town in 2011, proving that the Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students crowd simply won't vote for a student.

All elections will be from precinct-size wards, with only ward residents voting. A larger council of two dozen will almost certainly have four or five student members from campus precincts, and more diversity elsewhere.

To deal fairly with turnover within the student population, all council terms are two years. That also makes the council more immediately responsible to the electorate.

All city offices will be on the general election ballot with governor and president. That catches students, and other under-represented voters, at the moment of peak interest.

Abandon the city clerk's anti-student petition policy of cross-checking signatures to make sure they are "qualified" electors. This policy ignores the 2007 election day voter registration law. Any US citizen of "the legal age" - and Dr. Dobyns, the Constitution says that's 18 - without a felony is "qualified" to vote.
Abolish the requirement that petitions cannot address issues of state and federal law. Maybe if the voters get to symbolically vent in a marijuana referendum, they'll feel better and be able to evaluate our court and jail needs and county attorney race on their own merits.

I've just poured extra gasoline on the ashes of the bridges I long ago burned. So no illusions about my chances for the appointment. But forget me. I'm just another old straight white guy and we have plenty of representation already. Take my name off it and look at the ideas.

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