GRANOLAPARK: City charter change fails

Councilmember Jarrett Smith abstains

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

OCT. 5, 10:10 PM: The Gang of Four is now the Gang of Three. Councilmember Jarrett Smith, who has supported changing the city charter in the past, abstained on a crucial vote. The vote was then tied 3 in favor, 3 against. The charter change, having failed to pass, has essentially been defeated, at this point.

The controversial charter change would have allowed the city council to pass an ordinance requiring that future city managers live in or near the city.

The vote was:

In favor: Tim Male (Ward 2), Kay Daniels-Cohen (Ward 3), Terry Seamens (Ward 4).

Against: Fred Schultz (Ward 6), Bruce Williams (Mayor), Seth Grimes (Ward 1)

Abstain: Jarrett Smith (Ward 5)

 

UPDATE: OCT. 6: There were two votes. At the request of the mayor, the vote was taken a second time so he could change his vote, as is allowed.

He did that because he did not know Smith would abstain. He had just cast his vote FOR the charter change thinking it was going to pass anyway, so he’d support it. But when Smith abstained, he realized if he changed his vote, it would be a tie. So, he called for a recount, as is the right of any councilmember in the majority of the vote just cast.

Mayor Williams first voted for it because it was not a vote for the residency requirement, only a vote that would change the city charter so it allowed the city council to enact one. He said it would be easier to undo a residency requirement city ordinance than it would be to undo a city charter change. Also, he rather liked the second proposed city ordinance that would establish what the council calls the”advise” provision, allowing them an advisory role in hiring department heads. He remained firmly against a residency requirement, and was intending to vote “nay” on the proposed ordinance that was to follow the charter amendment.

Seeing the unexpected opportunity to derail all the proposed changes, Williams took it. There was some uncertainty about how to go about the unusual procedure. The mayor asked the city clerk, acting-city manager, and city attorney if he was within the rules. His question was met with a long pause. Nobody had a copy of Roberts Rules, the set of rules most governing bodies abide by. The city attorney ventured that a “reconsideration” was proper, so the mayor asked the city clerk to “please, recall the vote.”

Tim Male, in a note to a community email discussion list written after the meeting said that the recount procedure was not conducted strictly by Roberts Rules. He said the mayor should have made a motion to recount the vote, and that should have been followed by a vote on that motion. And the motion would have to pass in order to take a second vote.

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

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