District Heights mayor and City Commission last week introduced a revised city charter with a provision underscoring the commission's authority to hire and fire appointed officials.
In the wake of the controversial firing in May of Police Chief Charles T. Carlson, the commission proposed in its resolution that the commission shall have specific authority "to appoint all heads of committees, the heads of all offices, departments and agencies" and that those employes "shall serve at the pleasure of the commission."
The revision also would empower the commission to establish a merit system for regular city employes, City Attorney Regis A. Johnston said. Currently, there is no merit system.
City employes may be "appointed and removed by any merit system adopted by the commission," according to the resolution.
Another revision would raise the maximum fine for infractions of the city codes from $100 to $500.
Johnston said the revision comes as a means of incorporating revised city codes and to "streamline" the city's laws. He noted that "the specific powers haven't changed."
Commissioner Monroe Chew IV said that the provisions governing appointed city officials "wasn't clarified before. Now the appointments will be strictly appointments."
Residents criticized the mayor and commissioners for firing Carlson in May, many charging that they suspected the action was done for political reasons and was unfair because they felt he had performed well.
Residents have 40 days after the revised charter is passed in which to challenge it by referendum, which could be called by 20 percent of the registered city voters, said a city clerk, Geraldine Brewer.