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November 08, 2012
Council member wants substance over process
EDMONDS, Washington (STPNS) -- Edmonds City Council member Diane Buckshnis wants council discussions to be more productive.
She said she’s had a “number of conversations recently with fellow council members, citizens, Mayor Earling, the city attorney and some directors regarding what I would classify as PROCESS issues as opposed to issues of SUBSTANCE.”
While she admits that some process issues are substantial, she’s concerned that the council may be attempting to nitpick or micro-manage everything.
“That is not our role as legislators,” she said. “Sure, I am guilty of micro-managing a bit when I saw that there were no policies or procedures in place in the finance area.
“But I did not write those policies or procedures, I merely asked and provided examples. And then I continued to ask until they were done.
“That is the role I see as substantive, and the process was left to the staff. So, it really is a matter of looking at what is a process and what is substantive.”
Buckshnis says the council has recently been looking over a number of issues that she considers “process.”
“As an example, currently there is an issue regarding resolution 292 (dated 1974) that apparently outlines how council meetings should be handled rather than use Roberts Rules of Order,” she said.
“This issue among other items such as the 13 ranking motions, meeting procedures, how council members should conduct themselves during and outside of meeting are all being reviewed by the Public Safety/Personnel Committee.”
Buckshnis said the committee also tasked itself with editing the city’s job descriptions.
“While I am in no way criticizing this committee for taking on this tremendous task of updating these policies and procedures, for years now there has been little to no problems.” Buckshnis said.
“When I retire, I am not concerned that I will be remembered for not knowing the parliamentary procedures found in Roberts Rules of Order or the 13 ranking motions or other issues in this manual that I have already read and understand.”
Buckshnis said she is just trying to explain moving things that appear to be processes through the system more quickly to help benefit the citizenry.
“Remember, the City Council has operated this way for many years under these guidelines, and I have not heard many concerns until now,” she said.
She said she will be asking Council President Strom Peterson to bring these outdated resolutions (292, 853, 1150) forward in the upcoming weeks to that it can be determined if other council members want to remove these items and be done with it and “move on.”
Buckshnis said she would also like to “reconsider the executive session note-taking that we tasked Mr. Taraday to craft.”
“I believe I was the fourth vote, and now I have done my own research since I was never supplied any empirical evidence or commentary of what other cities are doing other than to hear the guest speakers,” she said.
“I have spoken to a few prominent mayors, former council members, and a few of my fellow council members’ friends. I have changed my view in this area and would like to bring it back for reconsideration.”
And lastly, Buckshnis said she would like to speak to the “cat containment law,” which she now understands is back being discussed in Public Safety.
“Whatever the outcome, I would like to bring forward a public hearing that both Ms. Petso and Ms. Fraley Monillas requested,” she said. “During the Halloween Howl at the dog park, I was bombarded by comments about ‘sneaking in the cat containment rescission along with the off-leash dog park laws.’
“Just because tickets are/were not issued does not mean the law is or was not enforced.
“I know of only one ‘scoop the poop’ ticket that has ever been issued, so therefore using the same logic, we should rescind that law too?
“Again, we are back to looking at substance versus process. It is really time to stop micro-managing the staff and mayor.
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