The City Council will hold a special meeting this Saturday. On the surface, it is for “staff evaluations.” However, tucked into this meeting is an agenda item “Agenda Management and Council Rules Procedure.” If enacted, this would result in a less responsive and transparent city government. Power would shift away from elected representatives and into the unelected bureaucracy.
The agenda item is cloaked as a rule change, supposedly to increase transparency. In fact, it does the opposite. It places authority to set agenda items (among other things) into the hands of unelected city staff, as follows:
1. Under the agenda caption “Calendaring Items” is the proposed rule: “Requests that an item be presented to council on a specific date would not be considered by staff.” This means that city staff can decide when to put something on the council agenda.
2. Under the agenda caption “Pulling Items,” city staff garner great control over agenda items being considered by the council. Without specifying what a “serious error or inaccuracy” is, city staff, at their discretion, can request that any item be removed from any agenda and thus not heard by the council. Whether or not “serious errors or inaccuracies” are intentionally inserted into an agenda item puts the control over council agenda items into the hands of city staff.
3. Under the caption “Considering Ordinances,” it says, “Staff seeks council direction regarding the scheduling of second readings for ordinances that are approved on first reading by a less than unanimous vote.” Basically, city staff is seeking a rule change to have, itself, the authority to schedule when an ordinance comes before the council for its second reading and adoption.
These rule changes are dangerous. They amount to a usurpation by the bureaucracy to control council agenda items. As a concerned resident, I urge the council to reject these changes.