Mayor vetoes ballot question

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana Friday afternoon vetoed a recently passed ordinance giving voters the choice in the fall general election whether they want to see a charter commission study another form of city government and make that recommendation to voters in 2018.

Campana said most people he spoke with have told him it was a “power grab for City Council to rule the city without checks and balances,” and he called for part-time council to not accept health care to save tax dollars.

“By all of them accepting health care, it cost city taxpayers over $155,000,” Campana said.

Council leadership responded almost immediately after the announcement at 1 p.m.

“I have instructed the city clerk to put the matter on the agenda for council’s vote,” Council President Jonathan Williamson said. To override the veto would require five affirmative votes, he said.

Councilman Randall J. Allison chided the mayor’s ill-timed veto in light of wave of drug overdoses, surpassing 51 as of Friday, according to UPMC Susquehanna.

Campana also may be pinched by the gray area of the law, which makes it unclear if the charter commission question is subject to veto under third-class city law.

Normally, any ordinance can be vetoed by the mayor in a third-class city, but the law that applies to the charter commission ordinance question in a third-class city does not address the mayor’s role in the process, Williamson said.

Campana said the council didn’t put the home rule charter question on the referendum for the fall voters because it wants a council-manager form of government.

Council has said it will be up to voters to decide first on the question, if they want the commission to study it for nine months, and if the commission arrives at a recommendation, whether it will vote in the 2018 election on it.

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