COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE


08-0509R


RESOLUTION SUBMITTING A PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO SECTION 30 OF THE CITY CHARTER TO THE VOTERS AT A SPECIAL ELECTION ON NOVEMBER 4, 2008.

CITY PROPOSAL:

     RESOLVED, that the city council hereby submits the following proposed amendment to Section 30 of the 1912 Home Rule Charter of the city of Duluth, as amended, to the qualified voters of the city of Duluth at the special municipal election to be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 for their ratification or rejection in the manner provided for by law.

     RESOLVED FURTHER, that the city clerk shall place upon the ballot at such general election the proposition hereinafter set forth.

     To vote for the proposition, completely fill in the oval next to the word “YES” for that question.

     To vote against the proposition, completely fill in the oval next to the word “NO” for that question.

PROPOSITION

     Should Section 30 of the 1912 Home Rule Charter of the city of Duluth, as amended, be amended to read as follows:

Sec. 30.   Conflicts of interest.

     (A). No officer or employee of the city shall solicit or receive, any pay, commission, money or thing of value, or derive any benefit, profit or advantage, directly or indirectly, from, or by reason of, any improvement, alteration or repair required by authority of the city, or any contract to which the city shall be a party, except the lawful compensation or salary of such officer or employee. No officer or employee of the city, except as otherwise provided in this Charter, shall solicit, accept or receive, directly or indirectly, from any public service corporation, or the owner of any public utility or franchise, in the city, any pass, frank, free ticket, free service, or any other favor, upon terms more favorable than those granted the public generally;

     (B). Violation of the provisions of paragraph (a) by any elected official shall be a misdemeanor. An attempt (as defined in the state statutes) to violate the provisions of paragraph (a) shall also be a misdemeanor. It shall be the duty of the city attorney to prosecute any violation. If the city attorney is informed of an alleged violation by any citizen, and finds no probable cause to prosecute or otherwise fails to prosecute the same within 30 days, the person alleging the violation may petition the city council for the appointment of a special prosecutor by filing a written request therefore with the clerk, accompanied with full payment of a fee established by the Council by resolution. Said fee shall reflect the City’s costs of administering the request but not including the costs of any special prosecution. The city council shall, within 60 days of receipt of such written request, vote to approve or disapprove said request and may, by a majority of those voting on the question, petition the chief judge of the district court to appoint a special prosecutor, and the chief judge shall do so within 30 days of the request. If a member of the city council is the alleged violator, that member shall not vote on the question. The special prosecutor shall investigate the matter and, if probable cause is found, shall prosecute it. The defendant shall have a right to trial by jury. The special prosecutor shall be entitled to ordinary and reasonable fees, as determined by the district court, to be paid by the city. The special prosecutor need not be a resident of the city of Duluth; 

           YES __________       NO ____________

     A “YES” vote is in favor of adding a process requiring the City Council to act on citizen complaints pertaining to alleged conflicts of interest.

     A “NO” vote is a vote against adding a process requiring the City Council to act on citizen complaints pertaining to alleged conflicts of interest.


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  This resolution is to have placed on the ballot for the November 4, 2008 election an amendment to Section 30 of the City Charter to allow a citizen to request that the Council appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute violations of the Charter’s Conflict of Interest provisions when the City Attorney has determined that there is no probable cause to do so and provide a time frame for the Council to decide whether or not to do so.


Presently, the Charter provides that if the City Attorney determines that there is no probable cause to believe that a violation of the Conflict of Interest provisions has occurred, the person alleging the violation can petition the Council for the appointment of a special prosecutor. There is no requirement that the Council act on that request.


The proposed amendment would allow the petitioner to pay a fee at the time of filing a written request which would result in the Council being required to respond with a decision on that request within 60 days of its being submitted to them.


The substance of the proposed charter change was proposed and recommended by the Charter Commission at its meeting of July 9, 2008.