Government Study Commission starts by researching, interviewing

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Home Rule Commission members from left Ardis Mason, Matilda Noviello, Jennifer Ayers, Mark Stephens, Margret Tupper, and left, Dr. Allison Hirsch met at City Hall for their second Home Rule Commission meeting Monday night.

Research has begun, data-mining has started and the Government Study Commission is well underway with plans to interview current and retired city government officials.

The twist is that the group wants to see how the city would function using Home Rule Law, which already is adopted in 22 other third class cities throughout the state.

Six of the seven elected members met Monday for about 30 minutes.

Chairwoman Jennifer Ayers organized the session, and set up who would be on various committees.

Others in the group include: Margaret Tupper, secretary; Ardis Mason, treasurer; Matilda Noviello, Ralph Mark Stephens, and Jon Mackey, who was elected as a write-in candidate and did not attend the meeting.

Home Rule, provides

the ability, for example, of citizens to form their own bill of rights, and forward potential life-improving ordinances to whatever government is in power, according to Alison D. Hirsch, a member.

Home Rule is all about flexibility and access to government, Hirsch said. People should take a look because it can provide flexibility in local government, giving citizens the ability to proposed ordinances for the ruling government body, she said, reading the state law.

One city resident Dan Maneval, said he would try to be at other meetings.

The commission is planning to review a 10-city case study to see what works best in several nearby cities.

It’s also going to conduct interviews with knowledgeable and retired individuals such as John Grado, former city engineer and director of community and economic development, who retired in July.

Members are going to speak to individuals such as Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and City Council, and others who run the city.

The group plans a communications strategy incorporating social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and utilizing local media.

The group is one of two that are researching and taking a dedicated look at what would be the best form of city government.

Another seven-member elected group also researching third-class cities and forms of government is the Charter Commission. Both, however, are starting to do research and will hold various public meetings to prepare to make a recommendation for voters in the November ballot on what form of government best suits Williamsport.