The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fight Night at the Council (Again)

Merging the commissions…

It was interesting reading the comments of Kevin Klein, outgoing chairperson and member of the Davis Social Services Commission. For one thing he identified himself as such which I had thought was against council rules to identify yourself as a member of the commission when writing letters to the editor.

Regardless, Klein writes, “All said and done, it's no wonder the Social Services Commission unanimously approved the merger of the two commissions.”

Of course the Senior Citizen’s Commission did not vote to approve the merger and in fact are strongly opposed to the merger. It seems in rather poor taste for the Chair of one commission to be publicly going after the chair of another commission on this issue. Musser-Roberts should have the right to express her opposition to this move without facing an attack from the Chair of the Davis Social Service Commission.

Not that I am surprise that Klein would take this course of action. For some reason he saw fit to attack the former chair of the HRC and interject himself into that controversy that really did not involve him.

Procedural Tensions with the City Council

There was a moment last night of high irony as the council fought on the issue of consensus. It seems this council fights even over whether to do things by consensus.

That leads me to my main point on all of this—the ensuing fight between Don Saylor and Sue Greenwald over procedure. They were dealing with an item that was not an action item, Sue suggested that they make comments and question simultaneously. Don pointed out and Ruth and Stephen agreed that the rules state that there is a written policy about how this is to be done. And there is.

HOWEVER, and this is an important point, Sue made a suggestion for a different approach since this was a less formal item. And Don for reasons that are not completely clear (nor made clear), strenuously objected. The only explanation the public got was that there are written rules. Well we know there are, but the chair often has the discretion to waive those rules for less formal items. Don could have gone along with this, there does not appear to be a compelling reason not to, other than a strict and blind adherence to rules, and instead of fighting and looking like a bunch of squabbling kids, they could have been discussing something important like the future of the city.

Two basic observations—first Don looked extremely petty making an issue of this in the first place. The rest of the majority and Sue certainly added to the problem.

The most mature councilmember appears to be the one who is by far the youngest of the five—a bit of irony not lost on those watching the exchange… Lamar Heystek, avoided the fray, he supported Sue on the procedural issue. Sue needs to better pick her fights—she certainly was right in that she had the discretion to waive the rule, Saylor certainly had the right to insist that they follow the rule but it didn’t seem like an important enough issue. Instead it looks like a power struggle and no one except Heystek looked good in the exchange.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting