Lansing Revision Charter Commission moves forward with public engagement ideas

Board sets dates for ward meetings, plans a mailer to 48,000 households   


 WEDNESDAY, June 19 — The Lansing Charter Commission is moving forward with a plan to solicit public outreach through 48,000 mailers to households with at least one registered voter.

City Clerk Chris Swope estimated that the cost would range from $12,000 to $15,000, depending on size and color.

At yesterday's meeting, a draft of the mailer was introduced. It included information on the commission’s regular meeting schedule, dates for four ward-based public forums, commissioner contact information, links to the city-run commission website and online feedback forms, and the commission's regular meeting schedule.

“The stakeholders are the people, and that's who we're sending this out to. We're trying to get as much information out there as we can,” chair Brian Jeffries said.

With commissioners Ben Dowd and Guillermo Lopez absent, the remaining seven commissioners generally supported the proposal, though some offered a few tweaks to the language.

“I think the idea of sending a postcard is a really good one. I'm not convinced that this is the exact language that it should include. I may offer a revised draft just to make it a little bit more personal,” Commissioner Elizabeth Boyd said.

Others wanted to add a brief explanation of the process.

“I think it would be imperative to put an explanation of what the charter is and why we're doing what we're doing, because people still don't understand,” Vice-chair Lori Adams Simon said.

Jeffries suggested tabling it until the next meeting to make those revisions. The commission agreed.

“During this time, if you have language that you want to incorporate in this, you can send it we'll get it in,” Jeffries said.

In other business, the commission set a community meeting schedule by wards, starting with the 4th Ward, which will be 6:30 p.m. July 24.

The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Alfreda Schmidt Southside Community Center in the 3rd Ward. The 1st Ward meeting will be 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Foster Community Center.

A meeting was set for Sept. 14 in the 2nd Ward, but the time and location have yet to be determined.

Several members indicated that they wouldn’t be able to make some sessions. However, the body generally agreed that it would be unrealistic to expect every member to attend each of them.

Next, commissioners established a working timeline for the revision process, beginning with an initial fact-finding period through the end of November. Drafting would begin at the beginning of November and end in August 2025, with the goal of presenting a revised document to the Governor’s Office in time to put it on the General Election ballot in November 2025 if the governor approves.

Under the same timeline, the commission will begin breaking down each section of the charter line-by-line. They will begin with Article I on July 2 and conclude with Article IX on Oct. 22. While the commission won’t actually draft changes during these initial breakdowns, Jeffries said it was important to review each portion to “get everybody on the same page” ahead of making any firm revisions.

“This is just an outline to ensure that we're staying on time to do this,” Jeffries said.

Commissioner Jazmin Anderson supported it.

“I do think it is really imperative that we stick to the November 2025 goal, just because if it doesn't pass, we then have to go back to the drawing board and kind of figure out why it didn't pass, redraft, submit it through the process all over again by November of 2026. So, for me, I think I just feel comfortable being mindful of that,” Anderson said.

Jeffries added that the timeline can be altered at any time if a majority of commissioners find it necessary.

“If we're ready to draft earlier, we can do that. I don’t believe this process is going to be fixed,” Jeffries said.

Boyd asked who would compose the draft

Jeffries said that an attorney yet to be hired will need to draft some of it. “I don't know who will actually put together the final document."

“If we go to a city manager form of government, there's going to be huge changes in the charter as it exists today,” Jeffries explained.

The body also discussed how to invite relevant “stakeholders” to weigh in on the process and potential changes.

The meeting packet included another draft letter to be sent to these stakeholders. Jeffries provided an example of how he envisioned the process.

“When we go through the article dealing with City Council, and the legislative branch of government, Article Three, we would send this thing out to current or former Council members, trying to get them to come down to the Council meeting to talk about that particular article and their experiences they had,” Jeffries said.

Commissioner Muhammad Qawwee suggested adding the letter to the website to promote greater access.

Commissioner Jody Washington opposed the proposal, which passed 6-1.

“We're paying staff, we're going to pay an attorney, we must be mindful of our budget,” Washington said. “We don’t have that much left, honestly. And I’m not in favor of sending special invitations to special people. Put it on our website.”

Under new business, the commission discussed its June 5 request for proposals for an attorney. Jeffries said he expects all responses by June 27, which would allow the body to vet the submissions at its July 2 meeting. He added that he didn’t know how many had been submitted to date.

“I will make a motion that we have a special committee of the whole meeting where we all go over the RFPs,” Washington said.

The motion passed unanimously. The commission did not set a time for the RFP review session, but it agreed it will come before the 6:30 p.m. July 2 regular meeting at City Hall and the public will be notified beforehand.



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