GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
OCT. 22: The Takoma Park city council’s public hearing tonight went from combative to Kum-ba-ya. It took almost three and a half hours, but they reached a compromise position close to mid-night.
Residents, most of them opposed to two controversial proposals, lined up at the council microphone to give their three minutes worth. The proposals were supported by only 4 of the 7 councilmembers. The first required city managers and department heads to live in or close to the city. The second created an “advise and consent” role in the city manager’s hiring of department heads.
Part of the controversy was that one or both of these would require a city charter change, a more formal and difficult task than passing a city code ordinance. It is like the difference between amending the US constitution and passing a law in Congress.
By the end of the “first reading” of the proposed changes, both proponents and opponents worked together to re-write the city charter change. The result is a less specific charter change that doesn’t establish residency or advise & consent, but allows council to pass ordinances that do.
It also drops the “consent,” only requiring an “advise” role for the council in hiring decisions. This, said the city attorney, is allowed under the current city charter restrictions.
The rewritten proposals are still proposals. Further public hearings and a “second reading” are required.
The amended charter change passed with 6 votes. Seth Grimes abstained because, he said, he supports the new “advise” provision, but not a residency requirement.
It was a great moment for compromise and consensus, but two of the former opponents, Mayor Bruce Williams and councilmember Fred Schultz signaled that they would likely vote against an ordinance requiring residency.