The days of the controversial Eagan Charter Commission may be numbered, after a judge released a ruling Tuesday that a majority of its members can be appointed by the Eagan City Council.
Council members interviewed 21 applicants Tuesday night for seven seats on the Charter Commission that they were ordered to fill by Scott County Chief District Judge William Macklin.
Mayor Mike Maguire took pains to inform the applicants that they weren't interviewing for the job of ending the commission, but to serve on it.
"It's up to the commission to decide whether or not to disband it," he said.
But it was Maguire and other council members who asked the commission to disband in November, after a proposed charter was rejected by 91 percent of Eagan voters.
Dee Richards, chair of the Charter Commission, said that a majority of commission members appointed by the council may stymie efforts to do the work of the commission and improve the city's government.
The council, she said, has made it "very clear on more than one occasion what they intend to do, and I believe them."
The City Council planned to complete its interviews Tuesday night and announce its appointments at the council meeting next Tuesday.
Eagan is the largest city in Minnesota without a home-rule charter, a constitutional instrument that allows a city to determine its own system of government outside the scope of the state's statutory provisions. Of Minnesota's 854 cities, 107 have charters.
Macklin's ruling, which was released Tuesday morning, was important because ordinarily he would have sole authority to appoint members to the 13-member board.
He decided that in this case state law gives city officials the authority to fill the seats of seven commissioners because he wasn't notified when their terms expired nine months ago.
Macklin added that he will appoint an eighth person to fill the seat of a member who failed to file his oath of office.
Seven new members, on their own, won't be able to end the commission; that would require agreement from 10 members. But they can influence the direction of the board and at the very least make it tough to conduct the business of studying and drafting a charter for the city.
Among those interviewing for the commission Tuesday night were former state Auditor and Eagan Mayor Pat Anderson and former legislator Bruce (Buzz) Anderson, who made clear his opposition to the Charter Commission.
"I would work to be as constructive as possible, but I really don't think there's a need for the Charter Commission," he said.
Kevin Duchschere • 952-882-9017