On top of potentially eliminating some gendered language, voters in Grand Haven will also vote on two other proposals Tuesday that could change other parts of their city’s 60+ year-old charter.
“City council has long wanted to sort of freshen things up and update the charter. It's a 1959 document, so they thought they would approach it piece by piece,” says Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis.
One of those pieces, City Proposal 1, would eliminate “inaccurate language,” or mentions of the city hospital, city library and city courts; none of which have existed in Grand Haven in decades.
“It just makes for a clumsy, cumbersome document with a lot of pages we really don't need. I've been victimized by it when I first moved here and started reading about my job and reading this pretty long charter document and I get to the end of a pretty long section and it says what you just read is obsolete and doesn't exist anymore,” McGinnis added.
Neither does having a city attorney on staff. City Proposal 3 would eliminate mandatory attendance of an attorney at city meetings.
“For years, we've been contracting that out to a private law firm and we found that the city attorney would sit through our meetings and rarely be asked any questions. And when the city attorney was asked a question, the answer we usually got was well, I’ll need to look into that,” McGinnis explained.
The attorney typically charges the city $180 an hour, so the city has cut back on their attendance already, keeping them on an on-call basis. Despite that, the city charter requires they be in attendance, so the city is putting an official change in policy on the ballot.
“The attorney has not been attending city council meetings for many years now. However, the charter says the city attorney shall attend all meetings. So we thought we should ask the voters if they want to keep that or if they want us to get rid of that and be a little more efficient,” says McGinnis. Poll will be open from 7:00 AM-8:00 PM Tuesday. To see what’s on your ballot, click here.