Normally I try not to bug you more than once a week, but the upcoming City Council Meeting (Thursday February 6 @ 7PM) is so important I want to strongly encourage you to attend. Agenda is here.
At that Meeting (referred to as a Study Session), the Council will take up a single issue: the vacant City Council position. At the meeting, all applicants will be given an ‘interview’.
Here’s why I want you to attend: I want you to ask the City Council to postpone voting on a replacement until the next meeting (a week later). Just one week. That’s all.
1. We as councilmembers did not receive any instructions on how the process of choosing would work ahead of time. Nor were we given any input into that process. Everyone (except the Mayor) were informed the same way you as a resident might: by looking at the Agenda available on the City’s web site. The only reference to the process (which is on the Agenda) is that it was the same process as was used on the last two appointments. Frankly, I don’t care how it was done in the past. I want all my fellow councilmembers to have a chance to decide on the process.
2. Applications are due by end of business on February 3rd. That gives us as councilmembers only two days to review the resumes of all the applicants!
3. At the Study Session, applicants will each have three minutes to make a presentation. And after that, each councilmember will be allowed to ask only one question of each applicant. Just one.
4. After that ‘interview’ process, we may vote to go into Executive Session to discuss the applicants. Frankly, I personally don’t favour doing any of the selection process in private, but in the past two appointments that was what happened.
5. After that optional Executive Session, we will most likely vote on the new replacement. All in the same night. With no time to think about the process.
Why This Matters
Now, those of you who have owned businesses or hired people for important jobs. Have you made that kind of a decision all in one sitting? Every person I have ever hired for anything other than a minimum-wage job, I took several days to make up my mind. A typical election campaign takes six months to decide. A position this consequential should not be decided in under three hours!
Also, by voting in the same evening, I won’t be able to obtain valuable input from the people I represent. I believe that you deserve an opportunity to weigh in with your thoughts.
Finally, although the Agenda states that the current appointment is being done like the past two appointments, that’s not strictly true. In 2013, Jeremy Nutting was interviewed on the April 25, 2013 City Council Meeting and then voted at the following May 2, 2013 meeting. However, Luisa Bangs was interviewed then voted on at the same meeting in 2015. This ‘all-in-one-night’ approach is exactly what we should avoid.
To sum it up, councilmembers have had no input on the selection process. We have only two days to review applications. And then we are expected to interview and make our final decision with only one question a piece in about three hours with a big chunk of the process in private Executive Session. Does that sound like best practice for someone who will be helping to lead your city?
For all these reasons I’m asking you to show up for this meeting and demand that, after the interview process, the Council moves to postpone the final vote on the applicants for a week until the next Council Meeting (Febuary 13). Just one week so that we make the best decision possible for the next two years.
Thanks for your time and your support for transparent government!