Rule change on City Council?

Could a major rule change be coming to City Council? If Councilor Bill Eddy has his way, it will.

Eddy expressed outrage on Tuesday night over what he said was the overuse of the ‘holding under personal privilege’ rule, calling it the “least transparent” piece of council politicking. The tactic allows councilors, when used as written, to immediately halt any conversation on an order, and prevent a vote from being taken for at least a week. Of course, councilors generally cherry pick the elements of the rule they like most, halting a vote, but allowing conversation to continue for over an hour at times. Eddy said he was frustrated by the way councilors use the item to delay inevitable passage, though Rick Rushton, the offender on this night, said that he was using it to make sure the City Manager paid more attention to a crucial issue.

In either case, Eddy is in a good position to affect change, should his colleagues let him: He’s the chair of the Rules & Legislative Affairs Committee, which would oversee any adjustment.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Rule change on City Council?

  1. Colin Novick

    As a community advocate, I have to tell you that the holding of an item under personal privileged is frequently what permits public input, not impedes it.

    Items can escape public notice on the City Council agenda;
    The ramifications or impacts of a given item may not have been previously apparent;
    The need to further research new options presented on the floor of the council chamber; or
    The need to allow the publican escape valve on a controversial item may be warranted.

    If the City Council were a pure board of directors arrangement, yes, holding items may chafe from time to time as holding back movement for a single week (or two at the most.)

    On the other hand, If the City Council is considered a public meeting and forum that permits public response and input, then the holding of an item can been an invaluable opportunity to engage the public in the process.

    Think of holding an item as a single tool in the toolbox to assure that controversial items are not railroaded through council and to help assure that the public doesn’t feel as if they were railroaded.

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