The Davis Enterprise did not cover the meeting, but the California Aggie did and had an article in today’s paper. (Click here to read the full article)
There were a few statements by Saylor and Asmundson that require some response.
“The ground rules are really very clear,” Saylor said. “One thing Mayor Greenwald enjoys is long discussions that aren’t related to the matter at hand. There is a way to do business thoroughly and effectively.”
In fact, Saylor is wrong because he fails to recognize that the chair in such meetings has considerable discretion to relax those rules in order facilitate discussion during the meetings. The ground rules themselves should not have been used to justify the type of conduct we saw at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Unfortunately, it seems like every meeting is a struggle,” she said. “[Greenwald] is trying to change our ground rules. She thinks it’s the prerogative of the mayor to do what she wants.” Asmundson added that she feels the reason the council wants procedure strictly followed is because of the mayor’s tendency to give long comments during the question period.
Again, we see the expressed need for the strict adherence to formal rules without the express stated purpose of exactly why that needs to be the case for issue that comes forward to council.
Saylor said he also feels that Greenwald’s attempt to reorganize the council’s order of handling business was routed in personal interest. “What you saw last night was an attempt by Mayor Greenwald to infuse an agenda on a simple policy action,” he said. “Problems occur when ground rules are not adhered to or altered piecemeal at the whim of others.”
This again brings up the question: what is the personal interest of the Mayor to modify the rules for discuss on what was largely an informal item. We still do not see the compelling need for this whole drama.
He [Saylor] added that he feels the mayor has overstepped her role and should adhere to the ground rules for her position.
This to me signals a future intention by the council majority. When they start using the term “overstepped her role” that means they intend to make some changes to get her back in line with the council majority or to replace her. It has been clear for some time that that has always been their intention, however they lacked the political will to do so. Now it appears they will try to use this to ratchet up support for making changes.
“The mayor has articulated an inflated view of the role of the presiding officer,” Saylor said. “Mayor Greenwald would serve the community well if she would study those ground rules and use them consistently during City Council meetings.”
In fact, my understanding is that the presiding officer has considerable discretion even within the formal rules to relax rules as they see fit—as long as the rest of the council goes along with it. However, in this case, the council chose not to go along with it. They have not provided any explanation either for the need to follow the strict guidelines in this specific instance nor have they offered any sufficient explanation to explain their boorish and childish behavior in provoking a long and protracted battle over a seemingly petty procedural issue.
We all expect the council to have disagreements on policy issues. I may not agree with the majority on the council some of the time on those issues—but that’s expect. The fighting on procedural issues however is far more destructive and the community will be far less forgiving.
The mayor needs to pick her battles more carefully, but the parlor games and political showmanship of the council majority is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. If Don Saylor thinks this makes him look good, he is sorely mistaken.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting.