Tonight’s council meeting

Here are my notes from tonight’s meetings:

Council Rules – Our meeting was brief tonight. We only had two business items. One was a proposed change in the council rules. In order to explain it, I will need to provide context.

Generally, city council works like this: A proposal is made by introduction into one of council’s five committees. The committee discusses it, analyzes it, sometimes amends it, and then holds a vote. Each committee has four members (except Committee-of-the-Whole, which has all 7 members). To advance a proposal through committee for a vote of City Council, it must obtain a majority (i.e., three out of four).

In the past couple months, Jim Costello used a procedure to avoid the committee vote and bring a proposal directly before the full council for a vote. The maneuver is completely legal. It’s specified in the existing council rules. But, frankly, it does fly in the face of what council has traditionally done.

Tonight, Bob Adaska proposed a change to council rules to prevent this so-called “circumvention” of the committees. I was not in favor of it.

My main concern with Bob’s proposal is that it would allow just two City Council members who are on a committee to shut down a proposal by preventing it from getting a majority vote within a committee. It would make a council minority more powerful than a minority in the U.S. Senate, which requires a 60% vote for cloture. Bob’s rule would require a 75% vote to overcome minority objections within a committee.

I think our council operates best when everyone gets a chance to participate. In my first few years on council, I was in the minority — a LOT. And I remember how it felt to get stifled on proposals I thought were legitimate. Although I never went so far as Costello did, I don’t blame Jim for using the rules to advance a cause he thought was important (in this case, it was a proposal to raise storm-water fees).

These complications were discussed tonight. To his credit, Bob withdrew his support for the proposal.

Shawn Porter – Please tune in on Saturday at 9 p.m. as Stow’s own Shawn Porter will be fighting for the world welterweight title against Keith Thurman. Thurman is the undefeated champion, and this is one of the most hotly anticipated fights of the year. To add a little context, this will be the first primetime fight on CBS since Muhammad Ali fought Leon Spinks in 1978.

Shawn is a friend, and one of the most humble, down-to-earth people I know, in spite of his fame and success. He has marched in Stow’s July 4th parade with me for the past couple years. Maybe he will bring the world title back to Stow on July 4?

Next Meeting – Council will meet next on July 14.