‘His­toric’ char­ter change sought

Amend­ment would pave the way for alder­women to be part of doc­u­ment

The Capital - - FRONT PAGE - By Lau­ren Lump­kin llump­[email protected]

“It’s time,” said Alder­woman Sheila Fin­layson, who rep­re­sents Ward 4 on the An­napo­lis City Coun­cil.

Fin­layson is one of four women on the city’s coun­cil, but the body’s char­ter doesn’t re­flect that. In fact, there’s no men­tion of any alder­women in the char­ter at all.

But that could change by next month, said Fin­layson.

Fin­layson, along with Alder­women Rhonda Pin­dell Charles and Elly Tier­ney have cospon­sored an amend­ment that would up­date the coun­cil’s char­ter to in­clude gen­der-spe­cific des­ig­na­tions for mem­bers.

“There should be some clear recog­ni­tion that al­der­men are men and women,” Fin­layson said.

If the coun­cil adopts the amend­ment, more than a dozen sec­tions of its char­ter will have to be up­dated. Each time the word “al­der­man” ap­pears, the word “alder­wom-

en” will need to be added.

The amend­ment is in the pub­lic hear­ing phase, which will take place at the City Coun­cil’s next meet­ing Mon­day evening — bar­ring any weather can­cel­la­tions.

Alder­woman Tier­ney called the amend­ment “a big deal.”

“It’s his­tor­i­cal in the sense that any char­ter amend­ment is his­tor­i­cal,” she said. “Be­cause you’re chang­ing the char­ter, the char­ter of how our gov­ern­ment is set up.”

Tier­ney ad­mit­ted the way the char­ter is cur­rently writ­ten — with­out the word “alder­women” — doesn’t re­ally bother her. But she’s still a strong sup­porter of the amend­ment.

“Be­ing a fe­male I felt ob­li­gated to spon­sor it, but I’m am­biva­lent in the sense that just work­ing in a male en­vi­ron­ment for most of my life, I never re­ally thought that those things mat­ter,” she said. “But I can see how it does to other peo­ple and I re­spect that. Peo­ple have worked hard for it.”

This isn’t the first time coun­cil mem­bers have tried to up­date the char­ter to in­clude the word “alder­women.” Re­tired Alder­woman Classie Hoyle tried to change the char­ter a decade ago, Fin­layson said.

“This is a fur­ther clean­ing up of what Alder­woman Hoyle did more than 10 years ago,” she said.

Af­ter Mon­day’s pub­lic hear­ing, the char­ter amend­ment will be as­signed to one of the coun­cil’s com­mit­tees. Then, it will re­turn to the full coun­cil for a sec­ond read­ing and a vote.

The City Coun­cil will also have sec­ond read­ers on bills to im­prove pen­sion ben­e­fits for po­lice and fire­fight­ers and fees for no net-loss for­est con­ser­va­tion. The coun­cil could vote on these bills dur­ing the meet­ing that be­gins at 7 p.m. to­day at City Hall.

Bill R-50-18 would change nor­mal re­tire­ment cri­te­ria from 25 to 20 years, in­crease the max­i­mum pen­sion ben­e­fit to 75 per­cent from 70 per­cent af­ter 30 years of ser­vice and mod­ify the de­ferred re­tire­ment op­tion pro­gram to be­come cost neu­tral.

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