Edmonds City Council Tuesday to discuss councilmember participation by speaker phone

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A resolution that spells out the rules for Edmonds City Councilmembers to participate in meetings via speaker phone “or other technology” will be considered during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The question of whether speakerphone participation is allowed was raised during the Aug. 25 council meeting, when Councilmember Diane Buckshnis called in, but a majority of councilmembers voted to prevent her from participating.

Prior to the regular meeting, the council will meet in executive session to discuss collective bargaining. The executive session is closed to the public and is scheduled to last approximately 30 minutes.

The agenda for the regular business meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., includes both an action section and a study section, although no specific items are listed under the study portion of the meeting. Also on the agenda as an action item is a closed record review of the Edmonds Planning Board’s recommendation to approve an application to rezone a portion of a 9.1-acre property at the northwest corner of 220th Street Southwest and Highway 99. The property was originally zoned to accommodate the TOP Food development, which is soon to become a WinCo, but included a contract rezone that limited further development of the site’s western portion. Under the rezone proposal, a portion of the existing parking lot would be redeveloped into a new retail pad building with associated parking, utility and drainage improvements.

The meeting will be in the Council Chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. You can see the complete meeting agenda here.

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. It is time to formalize rules for allowing Councilmembers to participate in Council meetings from a remote location if they are unable to attend in person. We need to avoid “ad hoc” handling of these situations in the future as such handling can be viewed by other Councilmembers as political maneuvering and may lead to further disharmony within Council. Clearly, there have been–and will continue to be–instances in which a Councilmember is unable to attend a meeting due to situations such as family emergencies, illness, long-planned vacations, etc. when an important agenda item arises which requires his/her vote. In those instances, Councilmembers should be afforded the courtesy of participating by phone in the proceedings. However, remote attendance should be treated as an exception and be limited to a finite number of occurrences in a calendar year. If the rules governing remote participation are written well, there should be no need for the Councilmembers present at a meeting to approve an instance of remote participation–the rules themselves will govern the situation. Let’s remove the ambiguity from the process and get these rules codified now.

  2. After nearly 3 years, hopefully we are close to establishing rules for participation by speakerphone. The following are questions taken directly from an email I sent to Mayor Earling and the City Council on October 7, 2012. The 2012 email was copied to the City Attorney:

    Please explain the process followed to authorize an absent City Councilmember to participate in a City Council Meeting from a remote location. Does such authorization require a majority vote by City Councilmembers in attendance at the meeting? Please provide the Resolution, Ordinance, State or City law which addresses this.

    Must a Councilmember who joins a meeting from a remote location be able to be heard by everyone in Council Chambers?

    Can a Councilmember join a public hearing (and subsequently vote) from a remote location AFTER a portion of the public’s audience comments have been completed? Please provide the Resolution, Ordinance, State or City law which allows this.

    Can a Councilmember join a public hearing (and subsequently vote) from a remote location related to only certain Agenda items. For example, Councilmember Yamamoto appears to have voted only on Agenda Item AM- 5141 the evening of October 2, 2012. Other votes were taken both before and after Agenda Item AM- 5141 on October 2, 2012. Please provide the Resolution, Ordinance, State or City law that provides an absent Councilmember the authority to pick and choose which issues they will vote on from a remote location.

    Can any Councilmember vote related to a public hearing PRIOR to being provided all written comments submitted by the public? Please provide the Resolution, Ordinance, State or City law which allows this.

  3. There are many considerations that need to be reviewed before deciding on a policy like this for instance:
    1. There is a policy in place, it is not allowed by the adoption of Roberts Rule in 2013. Is there a compelling need to serve the CITIZENRY?
    2. Compliace with the Open Public Meetings Act.
    3. The cost to provide the service. To be compliant with the OPMA it takes more than to have the council member watching the EdTV feed on a questionable connection and the Council President waving a cell phone.

    Here is how Woodinville, as an example, proceeded in an orderly process on this subject. Surely this topic deserves more review than to rehash a 3-year-old proposition.

    Also notice many of the links below are to published Council Rules of Procedure, one would think in 125 years Edmonds would have one.

    http://woodinville.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=608&meta_id=56200

    Links to items in the above link:
    http://cosweb.ci.shoreline.wa.us/uploads/attachments/cck/council/staffreports/2014/staffreport041414-9d.pdf
    https://my.spokanecity.org/smc/city_council_rules_01_12_2012.pdf
    http://mrsc.org/getmedia/96BAB9BF-390C-4B8E-B5BF-8A239F1FBC64/B67ccProtocol.aspx
    http://www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/1489

  4. Over the past several weeks different people have commented that Robert’s Rules does not allow councilmember participation in council meetings by telephone. I have searched Robert’s Rules and cannot find that rule. Perhaps I missed it. Can somebody please tell us specifically where in the rules to find the relevant reference.

    • Roberts Rules of Order
      Part IV

      MEETINGS AND STRATEGIES

      Chapter 16 – Meetings

      A meeting, as defined by Robert’s Rules of Order, is a single official gathering of the members of an organization in one room, with a quorum present to transact business. The members do not leave the meeting, except for a short recess, until the business has been completed or the chair declares the meeting adjourned. This chapter covers the many types of formal meetings (including conventions and mass meetings) and informal meetings (small board and committee meetings), and it discusses the pros and cons of electronic meetings. It also explains how to manage and evaluate meetings and how to form strategies – and counterstrategies – for meetings.

      The point is that this is a default position as well as page 43 here whether Roberts Rules is adopted or not http://www.awcnet.org/portals/0/documents/publications/mayorcouncilmemberhandbook13.pdf

      The whole point of the Open Public Meeting Act was to help limit the influence “out of the public light”. This is why there are also limitations on how remote voting has been implemented.

        • I found it here http://westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/roberts_rules/toc.html not sure what year it is.

          Also here http://www.robertsrules.com/faq.html#19 which is the official RONR site.

          My main point of all this is there are rules and they are implemented for many good reasons. Some are:
          1. To assure every member has the opportunity to see the same information.
          2. The Council are representatives of the Citizens, they should be able to see their reps paying attention, engaged, etc.
          3. There should not be greater access for anyone (ie. sitting next to the member advising them).
          4. OPMA is a State Law.
          5. Members mistakenly hear things all the time, adding a layer of technology that can interfere (I know my cell phone does drop out) simply is added complexity.
          6. The needs of the City(Citizens) should be paramount, not the various needs of a council member. There is a reason a quorum is defined, so the City business can get done even with absences.
          7. Also some actions take a majority of the council, not a quorum. So significant items are held to a higher standard.

          It does not matter on which “side” anyone is, they should agree on a well-ordered meeting that follows the rules as adopted. I am still wondering why Edmonds does not actually have Council rules and procedures posted where everyone can see them. Seems like in 125 years this might have been done since most all other significant cities near us have this.

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