GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
UPDATE, Nov. 12: The city council will vote at its next meeting Nov. on whether to reconsider the city charter amendment. If the motion to reconsider passes, the council will again vote on the charter change. The change allows the council to pass an ordinance requiring future city managers to reside in or near the city, and another ordinance that would allow a council advisement role in hiring new department heads. Those ordinances are written and ready to be voted on immediately following the charter change, if it passes.
Nov. 9, 5:45 PM: The Takoma Park city council’s vote to change the city charter has been overturned – again.
The city attorney says in a Nov. 9 memo that procedure was correctly, if clumsily, followed by the city mayor when he changed his vote.
This amounts to the third reversal of the Takoma Park city council’s Nov. 6 vote on a city charter change.
In that meeting all the councilmembers voted, and the votes came out in favor of the change. One of those “aye” votes was the mayor’s. But, when the mayor heard councilmember Jarrett Smith abstain from the vote, he realized he could defeat the proposal by changing his vote.
That second vote was found to be “improper.”
Councilmember Seth Grimes pursued the matter following the city attorney’s previous memo, which said the “first” vote should stand. Grimes pointed out that in the discussion following that first vote the mayor did not declare that the resolution was adopted. He did not do that until the “second” vote was taken. Robert’s Rules, according to city attorney Susan Silber, says that a vote can be changed prior to the declaration of the results – something along the lines of “the ayes have it, the resolution passes.”
He did say something to that effect following the second round of voting – only it was a tie vote, meaning the resolution did not pass.
The mayor’s original “aye” vote was cast because he agreed with one part of the proposed change. But, when the opportunity presented itself, he decided he’d rather scuttle the whole proposal because he disagreed strongly with the other part. That was the residential requirement for the future city manager.
Silber addresses what she says were the concerns of resolution author Councilmember Male. These concerns appear to be that the mayor should not be able to prevent legislation passing by refusing to announce the result. That would amount to “misconduct.” Silber says that “a brief pause following a vote to allow for a tally of the votes, individual vote changes, or a request to recount the vote, however, does not constitute misconduct.”