Déjà Vu

The term déjà vu is French and means, literally, "already seen." In English I think it means having a flashback. In Lenoir City it means changing the charter.

Mayor Charlie Eblen tried it, Mayor Matt Brookshire tried it so why wouldn't the newest Lenoir City mayor, Tony Aikens, try it. I'm talking about extending the mayor's term from two years to four years. Apparently, when you become a mayor in Lenoir City you just have to try to extend your term. Eblen failed, Brookshire failed, maybe Akins will find third time charm and get it passed. 

The current Lenoir City charter review committee is planning to propose the term change for the August election. However, a longer mayor's term isn't the only change the committee is working on. See if this one sounds familiar?

Back in 2008, then LC mayor Matt Brookshire tried his darnedest to get the voters to change the charter to allow the position of Treasurer/Recorder to be changed from an elected position to an appointed position that would be filled by city council rather than the voters. Brookshire's plan was shot down by the voters by an 80% margin.

Now in 2012 looks like city officials are again looking to take the power from the voters and put it in their own hands. Why would city officials want control of the Treasurer/Recorder's office? Well, that's where the moneys at. Every penny of the city's revenue goes through that office. So if the person in charge of the money is subjected to the control of city officials rather than the voters, who then really controls the money. This one's not hard to figure out.

A third change is also being considered. Allowing non residents who own property in the city to vote in city elections. This one could be good or bad depending how it's structured.

Currently, some of the largest property/business owners in Lenoir City aren't residents of the city. But their properties and businesses are impacted by city officials and policies yet they have no say in the political events of the city. In many cases, these property/business owners are some of the largest tax contributors to the city coffers yet they have no voice in anything.

The problem is where to draw the line. Many years ago, nonresident property owners were allowed to vote in city elections but the right became abused when lots non residents were allowed to buy tiny portions of a parcel of property. There might be a hundred owners of one small vacant lot inside the city limits and all could vote in city elections. Then there's the problem of who all would qualify. Could Sam Walton's family vote in LC elections?

The review committee will face a challenge to come up with a proper balance that would allow property/business owners to vote in city elections but would prevent the fraud and abuse that took place when the practice was in force in years past. Another question is if these property/business owners are entitled to vote in city elections, could they also run for office in the city? I own property in Lenoir City. I'm just saying...

Time will tell how all these proposals will shake out but if history is any indication, the charter changes will get on the ballot and the voters will probably vote them down. We'll see. The more things change, the more they stay the same.