Residents voice their opinions at Charter Committee meeting

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - Changes to the City Charter are up to a committee that reviews some of the rules, but at a meeting Wednesday they took a different approach as some members of the public gave a lot of input.

Close to three dozen proposed charter amendments were presented and read by 3 citizens. Their goal, is to make sure the committee addresses some hot topics, but some of the proposals faced some opposition from the start.

"That council members will be limited to two trips, one to Washington and one to Austin."

"To reduce and limit other benefit allowances such as phone, currently 150 dollars a month."

"Assistance cannot be used for personal errands or personal family errands."

A list of over two dozen proposals to amend the city charter were presented by David Cardwell and a fellow citizen.

"Create at least two at large positions on the city council."

"That to serve on the city council, the member must be a land and home owner in the City of Laredo."

An idea that didn't sit well with one member.

"That only property owners can run for office, so I guess all the people that live in the colonias or the public housing authority, they cannot run for office. All the people who rent cannot run for office unless they own property. It's a throwback to the days of outrageous discrimination against poor people."

But some members of the Charter Committee didn't agree with some of the other ideas.

Others questioning whether or not Cardwell was representing a special interest group that came together the last time the City Charter was being worked on.

"Are you part of a group? This is not a resurrection of MLF, Moving Laredo Forward?"

"Moving Laredo forward was ended. No more financial reports. We've made nothing. We terminated it after the election. It does not exist."

Another citizen, Alfonso Poncho Casso, with watchdog group 'Civic' also presented his own proposals.

"We should give 65 year olds a 100% homestead exemption so they don't have to pay taxes anymore."

He also touched on discretionary funds.

"Creating cookie cutter policy by spending 4 million dollars every year and they don't even go to the voters for a bond issue. Can you imagine in a four-year term what you could have done? You could fix the loop."

Casso also presented 4 other proposals that he says will be released for public input.

"Whether they make it out of this commission and go to the city council, I am still going to pursue it on the streets."

Other topics that were covered by the committee were covered during the meeting, had to do with the budget and adjustment of council districts, but both were tabled for a future meeting.

Mr. Casso presented 7 proposals, and the other two citizens presented 26, so a total of 33 proposals were presented at the meeting.

Staff was directed to look over the 33 proposals presented by the citizens, and remove ones that have had action from the committee before to be able to discuss the ones that remain at the next committee meeting.