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Issues and Voices that Matter September 30, 2010

Schenck: Housekeeping or Substance?

A city’s charter is its constitution. It is reviewed periodically by a committee of residents. They propose amendments to city council. Those amendments are often grouped into categories — called “housekeeping” and “substance.” Such labeling can result in complications when coincidence and interpretation sets in. And that is what seems to be happening in the City of Oviedo, though the city doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Stephen Schenck, a member of the Oviedo council comments on this fuss.

Feature length – 18:32

(Co-produced by Stephen McKenney Steck and Desta Horner, reported and edited by Stephen McKenney Steck)

In many circles, the mention of the word “charter” and the word “review” in the same sentence strikes a combination of dread, hope and opportunity in the minds of elected officials, city staff, city attorneys and citizen activists.

In the city of Oviedo, Florida, as in many cities, the charter is reviewed periodically by a committee of residents. To administer the review and amendatory process efficiently and to focus on what’s important, these amendments are often grouped into categories — one called “housekeeping” and the other called “substance.” But normal efficiency and focus can become abnormally complicated when coincidence and interpretation sets in. And that is what seems to be happening in the City of Oviedo.

The complexity comes as a result of an unanticipated resignation of the city’s mayor, coincidentally around the time the charter is up for review, July 2010. And then, the manner by which city leaders seek to propose and classify amendments to the charter to accommodate any future resignations while in office.

The former Oviedo mayor Mary Lou Andrews has alleged that a proposed amendment to section 3.07 of the current charter dealing with “vacancies, forfeitures of office and filling of vacancies” has been crafted in such a way as to be considered “substantial” in her mind and worthy of much more public scrutiny that it has so far received. However, the city categorizes the proposed amendment to 3.07 as just plain “housekeeping” and doesn’t see what Andrews’ fuss is all about. Andrews just doesn’t agree and raised the level of awareness on this issue in a CMF interview with her posted on our website about her allegations.

Stephen Schenck is the only city official who accepted our invitation to comment on this dust up.
Schenck is a current member of the Oviedo city council. He served for three years on the dais with Andrews before her resignation

To better understand Andrews’ allegations which Schenck will soon address – you should listen to that intense interview CMF recorded with the former mayor. It’s called “Andrews: Revenge or Justice?” A link to that feature is below and the page includes helpful links to information to which Andrews refers in the interview. The pertinent portion about the charter is in the last half of the interview with her, but if you are unfamiliar with Andrews’ decision to resign, then un-resign, then, ultimately, stand-down, you should listen to the first part, too — as you will get an even better perspective on the comments Schenck offers in this feature.

On the November 2, 2010 ballot, 5 amendments are proposed to the city charter. Only one amendment was addressed in this feature – section 3.07 on “vacancies, forfeitures of office and filling of vacancies.” As to the other 4 proposed amendments, CMF has posted an interview with Oviedo mayor Dominic Persampiere in which he explains the relevance of them. Below, we have provided a link to that interview.

Useful links to issues addressed by Stephen Schenck

Links to other podcasts produced by CMF Public Media featuring Stephen Schenck

Extended Interview & Pictures

Click on the picture(s) to enlarge.
Stephen Schenck and Stephen McKenney Steck
Extended interview (56:48)


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