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Springfield City Council Continues To Mull Police Oversight Board Proposal

City councilors in Springfield on Monday night again declined to vote on a proposal by Mayor Domenic Sarno to establish a civilian police board.

Councilor Orlando Ramos chairs the Public Safety Committee, where the measure is being discussed. He said he has at least one major demand before approving the mayor's ordinance.

“What I’m proposing is that the mayor have five appointments to the committee, and the City Council have four,” Ramos said. “If that amendment is not accepted, or for whatever reason is not in the final version of the ordinance, then I will not support the ordinance.”

Ramos noted the council has already passed legislation establishing a police commission, but Sarno has refused to implement it. Sarno has said Springfield's city charter gives only the mayor authority to appoint members of such a board.

Will postcards help dismal turnout?

Meanwhile, the council gave final approval to a city-sponsored get-out-the-vote effort. The new rule requires officials to send postcards to all households notifying them of upcoming municipal elections.

During a 40-minute discussion of the new rule, Councilor Marcus Williams pointed out the less than 10 percent turnout in Springfield's last city election as reason enough to pass the ordinance.

“It’s kind of baffling to me as to why this discussion is being prolonged,” Williams said. “I mean, 10 percent -- that’s terrible, and we could be doing so much better as a community to get the word out.”

Springfield's Election Commission estimates the cost at about $26,000 each local election cycle. That includes a preliminary and general election.

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