Tom Butt
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  Dueling Agenda Items Might Make for an Interesting Meeting
February 9, 2022

Although not yet officially published, the February 15, 2022, City Council Agenda promises some interesting debate.

The corrupt and incompetent City Attorney’s Office has requested Item AA.1.B on the Consent Calendar to authorize another $150,000 for Meyers Nave to continue to litigate against me with nothing to show for it. They have already spent $186,000, so this would bring the total to $336,000. On the other hand, Nat Bates has introduced Item AF.3 to “Cease expending funds of litigation against the mayor.” Bates writes:

The City has expended approximately $182,000 on cost related to litigation against the mayor. Another $100,000 is anticipated in the continuance of litigation.

Instead of using city funds to investigate elected officials, the City of Richmond has the ability to and should request that the Grand Jury, Contra Costa County District Attorney, or the Attorney General have the authority to investigate elected officials when needed.

CEASE expending funds to litigate the mayor. Councilmember Nathaniel Bates (510-620-6743) 

The city is spending too much of taxpayer dollars on litigation against the mayor. There are other means to investigating and taking legal action against elected officials instead of using city resources. 

If City Officials have determined the need for an investigation of an elected official, the city can contact the Grand Jury, the District Attorney’s Office and/or the Attorney General’s Office to report actions or request investigations. 

Approximately $182,000 has been expended relative to litigation against the mayor and an additional $100,000 is anticipated. The city has too many other fiscal responsibilities to expend this much money and staff resources on litigating an elected official. 

Bates also listed Item AF.4, “Prioritization and control of City Council Meeting Agenda Items and discussion,” with the proposal:

Many City Council agenda items have been continued to future agendas due to excessive discussion or questions by the City Council. 

APPROVE a procedure to expedite City business by establishing a time limit on City Council discussions and allow the mayor, city clerk and city manager to prioritize the City Council agendas. Councilmember Nathaniel Bates (510) 620-6743. 

The City Council regularly conducts lengthy discussions and asks an excessive amount of questions during the City Council meetings. As a result, many time sensitive items have been continued to future meetings, in some cases, an item has been continued several times. Staff members, members of the public and consultants routinely wait for hours, time and time again to hear, present or participate in the discussion of an item, only to learn that the item will be continued to another meeting. 
City Councilmembers are expected to read the agenda packet and contact staff prior to the meeting to ask detailed questions related to items. More times than not, the questions that are asked during the City Council meetings are a result of councilmembers not reading the agenda reports and supporting documentation. The City Council meetings could be more efficient if time limits were established.  

The City Council should establish reasonable time limits for questions and comments from the City Council. The City Council once had a policy to limit the mayor and councilmembers to five minutes each for questions and comments on each item. The City Council should establish a similar rule. 
The City Council has also started to routinely request to move items up on the agenda which also increases the probability of items related to the budget, contracts, projects etc to be continued to future meetings. The mayor, city clerk and city manager should prioritize the City Council agendas. Prioritizing agendas includes the placement of items on the agenda relative to timeline constraints. Also, during the agenda setting meetings, the mayor, city clerk and city manager should have the authority to place items on future meeting agendas, if the agenda is too long. Many times, there are too many items placed on one agenda and it is apparent the items closer to the end of the agenda will not be discussed.  

It is my recommendation that the City Council establish a reasonable amount of time for comments, questions and discussion on agenda items and allow the mayor, city clerk and city manager to prioritize the City Council agendas. 

Actually, the existing City Council Rules of Procedure and Order limit councilmember debate to 5 minutes (previously adopted as the “Corky Booze Rule”). It has not been enforced since Corky Booze left, but I am inclined to stary using it again to rein in our more loquacious councilmembers, McLaughlin, Jimenez and Martinez, although I will probably get overruled.