The City Council is expected tonight to place a measure on the November ballot that would create an elected commission to explore changes to the way the city is governed.
That 15-member elected charter commission would take two years examining the city constitution. If changes are recommended, the new charter would go before the voters in 2014.
The idea of an elected commission was floated in February as a response to Mayor Kevin Johnson's most recent "strong mayor" proposal. Johnson had sought a ballot measure on his proposal to increase his job's authority, but the council rejected his request.
Now, led by Councilman Kevin McCarty, at least six council members are expected to support the charter commission idea tonight. Not surprisingly, the mayor isn't one of them.
"I think it's a waste of time, I think it's a waste of resources," Johnson told reporters this morning. The cost of a November election, administrative support for the commission and a follow-up election in two years is estimated at $621,000.
"When you can fully open up a city charter, I think it lends itself to creating all kinds of concerns for the public," the mayor said.
The police union has become a strong opponent of the idea. The public safety unions are particularly concerned that changes to the charter could wipe out binding arbitration arrangements that were approved by voters in the 1990s.