Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey looks to add bill of rights to charter

PORT RICHEY — It's been 217 years since the Founding Fathers drew up the Bill of Rights as part of the U.S. Constitution.

Little did they know that one day, city officials in an often contentious place called Port Richey would consider a similar proclamation for their population of 3,200.

Taking its inspiration from the city of Miami Gardens, Port Richey's seven-member charter review committee is proposing a Citizens' Bill of Rights. The two-page document moved forward after a 4-0 vote by the City Council on Tuesday night. (Council member Mark Hashim was absent.)

The next step is for the document to be approved as an ordinance by the City Council and then placed on a referendum vote for citizens in the spring.

If all goes as planned, the city's bill of rights will be added to the beginning of the city's charter.

"The city's bill of rights empowers the citizens and makes a strong statement," said Michael Hogg, a member of the charter review committee. "It's important to start our charter that way."

Port Richey's bill of rights includes 12 items. Among them: truth in government, the right to be heard and convenient access to conduct city business.

The ideas outlined in the document aren't new.

But in a city known for infighting and mudslinging — and on the verge of dissolving just one year ago — some say a bill of rights could create a sense of peace in the city by detailing what's expected of citizens and city officials.

"It's stating what we've known all along," said Phil Abts, council member. "We've had a lack of transparency in the past, and we've had contentious factions within the city that aren't able to agree. We're hoping to bring the city together as one."

City officials say a few months ago, while reviewing ways to update their charter and looking at charters of cities such as Miami Gardens, the idea for a bill of rights came about.

When the City Council interviewed and chose seven citizens, one alternate and three nonvoting members for the charter review committee, the issue became the first order of business.

"When you look at documents about our city, and what represents our city, this is the first thing someone is going to read," said Richard Reade, city manager. "This is what you should expect from your government."

In Miami Gardens, population 110,000, the city and its charter are only 5 years old, said Danny Crew, city manager.

Crew said he isn't sure where the components of its bill of rights came from, but that it's important to spell the ideas out for citizens to promote transparency in government.

"For us, it's made for a much more quiet and civil place," he said. "I think it's important to the staff of the city, so they know their orientation should be to the public."

Alene Burke, chair of Port Richey's charter review committee, said the bill of rights is a good start for the committee's work.

"It makes common sense," she said, "and it's democratic."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

fast facts

What's next

As part of the review of the city charter, officials are also considering lengthening the terms for City Council members from two years to four. The City Council and charter review committee will discuss the idea, and residents will decide the issue during a spring referendum.

Port Richey looks to add bill of rights to charter 11/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  2. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young

    Environment

    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  4. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on

    Tourism

    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Lien forgiveness program aimed at blighted properties in Zephyrhills

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — The city will begin offering a new residential lien forgiveness program in an effort to encourage improvements to properties and home ownership.

    City Manager Steve Spina said it is geared to foreclosures and properties for sale.