Here's the agenda for tomorrow night's Road & Safety/Finance & Planning Committee Meeting. I've used a tool called Scribd.com that allows me to upload a pdf and turn it into a link that can be embedded in this post for everyone to see simply by viewing the post. Let me know how you like it. After the document, I write a bit about what city council meetings are and are not, depending on your POV, and what I think will be the highlights of the meeting.
I will post these agendas as soon as they are made available. This one is not yet online at the city's website but most are posted there at last 24 hours in advance of the meetings.
I will also be sure to highlight items from each agenda. I will also work to "unpack" the structure and purpose of the meetings, which isn't something as obvious as you might think, in part because of how they've developed over time. Not to be too cryptic, but the council meetings are actually just that - meetings for council. They are, of course, public (and that topic is a whole 'nother entry) but they are not public hearings, per se, such as when the purpose of a meeting itself is to hear from the public.
Rather, the purpose of a council meeting is for the council to meet and do the work it needs to do. That there are two times during which audience comments are permitted, communities can dispense with that. I'm told that that is in fact in practice in some communities though I have not researched that yet (I have no suspicion that that's not true).
Just to emphasize why I'm pointing this out: City council members are prohibited from meeting together and discussing city business if there will be a quorum of them except in a public meeting. This is to protect the voters and keep the meetings open. A quorum for these purposes is four or more. So, in order to get our work done, we must meet in public - the meetings must be in public. But that does not make them meetings for the public, so to speak.
This issue is confounding in many ways and I do indeed want to explore it further. However, I want to note that just in the two months since election day, this issue of only being able to do work with Council if it's done in a public meeting, or else everything must be done one or two at a time, imposes very specific expectations on Council when it does get together. It might seem easy to say, "then get together more frequently!" but there's an expense to that, and not necessarily a corresponding need. Or is there? I don't know yet.
But, if you've ever been at a Council meeting and heard someone say, from the Council table, something about the meeting being for the Council and not a public hearing or public meeting per se, this is most likely what is being referenced. I know - because I was in fact at a meeting where this reminder was stated. It may seem brusque - and if you aren't aware of how Council really is required to function, it is brusque. But the reality is, these Council meetings? They really are needed for Council to do their work. The audience comment portions are vital - do not misunderstand, misinterpret or otherwise distort what I'm putting out here. But the meetings themselves - they are necessary for Council to get its work done.
Highlights for tomorrow night:
1. The swearing in of council members, of course.
2. Discussion of new rubbish collection program. PLEASE consider contacting a council member, emailing or calling City Hall or attending the Council meeting if you want to contribute to this discussion. Your input is critical to this effort.
3. Further discusion on proposed changes to The Pointe (aka Sterling Lakes condos on the West side of New Brainard). Again, PLEASE consider contacting a council member, emailing or calling City Hall or attending the Council meeting if you want to contribute to this discussion. Your input is critical to this effort.