City may create charter panel

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By David Giuliani

For months, Las Vegas resident Alex Aragon has been pleading with the City Council to form a commission to review and suggest changes to the city’s charter, which serves as Las Vegas’ constitution.

Aragon contends the charter is outdated, noting that it was drafted nearly four decades ago as part of the combination of the two Las Vegases.

A commission could look at issues such as increasing mayoral terms from two years to four and starting instant runoff elections, which would be called for the two top finishers when someone wins less than 50 percent of the vote.

At a recent meeting, Mayor Tony Marquez told Aragon that the council would form a commission “in due time.”

But at last week’s council meeting, Aragon said that wasn’t good enough. He said it was important to get a commission formed at once, so its members would have a proposed charter in time for the March 2010 municipal election.

“When is due time for the charter commission? What is the holdup on its formation?” Aragon asked.

At the meeting, Councilman Andrew Feldman asked that the city put an item on its agenda about the charter commission for its next council meeting. Each council member should be able to pick a member to the panel, he said.

Councilman Morris Madrid, who had already expressed support for a commission, said he would recommend that no elected officials be appointed to it so as to avoid conflicts of interest.

In an e-mail after the council meeting, Marquez said that he, too, supported forming a commission. He said he had been in contact with political historians and residents to get advice on how to go about it.

“Lately, different individuals have been posturing or commenting as a supposed lead person in this effort. It’s not a single elected official or single private citizen; it has been collective of the vocal minority and silent majority,” the mayor said in the e-mail.