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Someone Wants To Prevent LB City Hall "Advisory Bodies" From Discussing Subjects Without Permission. It's On City Council's July 10 Agenda is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(July 7, 2018, 10:58 a.m., updated July 9, 12:30 p.m.) -- An item on the July 10 City Council agenda seeks Council approval to have the City Attorney draft Municipal Code provisions to prevent LB City Hall "Advisory Bodies" -- including bodies created by the City Council whose members are picked by the Mayor, approved by the Council and have only "advisory" and no decisionmaking powers - from agendizing for Commission discussion items not approved by the City Manager of his staff. (The non-elected City Manager answers to the elected Mayor and Council.)

Responding to a request for clarification by, Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais says that as he understands the agenda item, it only relates to proposed changes to Chapter 2.18 of the Municipal Code which only applies to "Council established" advisory boards, commissions and committees (section 2.18.010). Thus, it doesn't appear that any of the proposed changes would apply to Charter created commissions such as Planning, Parks and Recreation, Water or Harbor since they aren't covered by that Chapter (2.18) of the Code.

To view the item as agendized, click here.

The same item also proposes to give the Mayor the power to remove Advisory Commissioner(s) without publicly stating any reason with Council majority voted approval. [In 2007, LB voters gave the Mayor "for any reason" removal power over Charter Commissioners [Harbor, Water] if approved by a 2/3 Council vote. Harbor Commissioner Tom Fields (who defied Foster) was the first to feel this lash in Nov. 2013.]

Mayor Garcia and Councilmembers aren't likely to admit trying to control discussion, squelch dissent or silence alternative advice from "advisory bodies" whose advice they supposedly seek. It's more plausible that they'd have their City Manager safely camouflage the action with high fallutin' sounding reasons. City Manager Pat West's agendizing memo [in full here] is full of them:

[Scroll down for further.]

...[B]oth the [advisory] bodies and the City Council have recently expressed some confusion about the bodies' roles and responsibilities, including best practices for how bodies should operate, transmit ideas to the City Council, and set agendas. Moreover, a lack of clearly identifiable roles and guidelines have prevented the bodies from operating in an effective and efficient manner. In response, the Offices of the Mayor, City Manager, and the City Attorney have discussed various options to enhance the delivery of services by the bodies, and determined that amending key sections of the LBMC pertaining to the bodies would significantly improve how the bodies operate with the City Council and City staff. The proposed changes will enable members of the bodies to better understand their roles and responsibilities, allow City staff to better support the bodies through defined operating procedures, and provide guidelines for communicating input to the Mayor and the City Council. Specific changes will clearly address defining the duties and functions of advisory bodies, identifying the City staff responsible for setting the advisory bodies' agendas, clarifying the permissible uses of City staff resources, and clarifying authority over City officers and employees. The intention is to strengthen the impact and effectiveness of the City's advisory bodies, and make the work more efficient and productive.

Below are some of the changes proposed to make the advisory commissions "more efficient and productive." Ask yourself whose views they'd amplify and whose viewpoints they'd mute:

Advisory Body Agenda

The LBMC [Municipal Code] is currently silent on naming the City staff position charged with setting the agendas for the advisory bodies, and also charged with controlling what items can be placed on the agenda. This missing designation in the LBMC can become a source of confusion when an advisory body member attempts to place an item on an agenda that is either not within the advisory body's jurisdiction, or concerns a subject matter that is within the purview of another body or even the City Council. It is recommended that Chapter 2.18 be amended to designate the City Manager, through his/her designated staff, as the person delegated with the authority to control the agenda. The Mayor and City Council will retain the right to provide direction to the advisory body through formal City Council action; however, revision of Chapter 2.18 would greatly reduce confusion about who can place an item on the agenda, what that process is, and any conflicts or redundancies between the work of the advisory bodies...

City Council Agenda

Chapter 2.18 does not specify in detail the way advisory bodies may provide input to the Mayor and City Council on items not specifically referred to such bodies. To clarify this role, it is recommended that a section related to duties and functions be added to the LBMC, which would include a description of advisory bodies' functions that follows the general language outlined in the Handbook. Moreover, because advisory recommendations are more structured when processed through the City Manager, language should be added defining the role of the City Manager and designee for placing advisory bodies' items onto the City Council agenda...

Removal of Members

To ensure efficiency, staff is recommending that the LBMC be amended to eliminate the requirement to show cause, and simply make advisory members removal become automatic (that is, occurring without the need for City Council action) when a member has had unexcused absences from three meetings within a six-month period or no longer lives in the City. The LBMC should also follow City Charter Section 510 concerning the process for removing members for other reasons; however, requiring a majority, instead of two-thirds, vote of the City Council.

The bottom line: the proposed changes would ensure that LB's Mayor-chosen/Council-approved "advisory bodies" don't try to offer advice that city management or the Mayor or some City Councilmembers don't want to hear. And some "Advisory Commissioners" who don't "know their place" cpuld lose their city business cards and substantively empty titles.

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Update as indicated above with some text revisions at 9:30 p.m, June 7






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