Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Politics

City Council wants to weigh in on mayor's hires — with impunity

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ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman hasn't named a new police chief yet, but his search process has prompted an unforeseen result: a council attempt to change the city charter.

Irked by what they called "heavy-handed" rhetoric by City Attorney John Wolfe, the City Council moved forward Thursday with plans to draft a plan to eliminate language in the city charter that would allow council members to be removed for weighing in on mayoral appointments.

Last month, Wolfe warned the council not to be too specific in its comments regarding the search. Currently, the charter reads that council members can be removed for trying to influence the process.

Council member Karl Nurse's proposed charter amendment calls for protections for members who voice an opinion.

"Voters expect us to have an opinion on who we have for police chief. It really has been a bit of an issue," Nurse said.

The "heavy-handed rhetoric" about removal went too far, said council member Steve Kornell.

"You may want to lighten up a little bit ... and let's work together," Kornell said.

The council will discuss the change next week at an agenda review session and then vet it further in two public hearings. The hope is to deliver ballot language to the elections supervisor in time for it to appear on the November ballot, Nurse said.

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