By Noah Dawson
It happened again. Our city council ignored we the people, and it’s caused confusion as to what constitutes the official record of public meetings.
This week, during public comment, I brought up a couple of points regarding meeting minutes, which are the official record of city meetings. In fact, since the public comment meetings are no longer recorded by the city, the minutes are the only record of what happened in the meeting produced by the city. This itself is one problem. Inherently, minutes are limited in their ability to be representative of what occurred during a meeting.
But there’s an even bigger issue, and it has to do with the approval of the minutes. In the agenda from this week’s regular meeting, under consent items, is the following text:
“A. MINUTES: Approval of the City Council minutes for the meeting held on January 15, 2019.”
Notice the problem? It only refers to “the meeting,” despite the fact that the public comment meeting and regular meetings are, according to the city, separate meetings, with separate agendas and separate minutes. Since the meeting time was changed and the meetings were split, this has remained the case.
During public comment, I brought this up. I asked the council which meeting the agenda referred to.
I did not receive an answer during that meeting, and no clarification was made evident during the regular meeting.
I did stay around for part of the regular meeting. During the meeting, to what I thought was my pleasant surprise, council member Freda Powell requested that the minutes be pulled from the consent items to be discussed separately. However, once they got around to discussing the issue, it became clear that their concern regarding the minutes was unconnected to mine. The issue they corrected was the fact that the public comment meeting minutes had read “Mayor Nelson established a quorum,” despite Mayor Nelson not being present at the meeting.
So, what does this mean? It means there is doubt as to what actually constitutes the record of what was said at the public comment and regular meetings.