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Charter Review Commission meets:  questions arise about issues, protocol

By Lois Krafsky-Perry
Citizen Review   

Jan. 16, 2007

Port Angeles, WA – Clallam County Home Rule Charter commissioners held their second meeting on January 15, at the county courthouse in Port Angeles.  Approximately 25 people attended the public meeting. Fourteen commissioners were present; Commissioner Dave Cummins (District 1) was absent, as excused by the Chair.
Business including passing Bylaws, Rules and setting the plan for interviews was accomplished.  Several individuals spoke in favor of “Instant Runoff Voting” (IRV) during the public comment period. Nelson Cone of Port Angeles spoke for the second time about adding the IRV to the Charter. He had introduced the idea at the first meeting held in December. Also speaking in favor of the issue was Clint Jones of Sequim. Ron Richardson, Port Angeles businessman, spoke on the subject, but with an alternate plan.

The agenda items were completed - and chair John Miller (District 2) asked if there was anything else "for the good of the order".  

Commissioner Norma Turner (District 2) announced she had a "resolution" to be considered, and passed out copies to the commissioners.  The resolution called for the commission completing its business and placing all proposed items on the ballot in 2007, rather than considering splitting them up as had been done by the previous charter.  (There were 13 amendments to the Charter made 5 years ago; 5 of which were placed on the ballot that year, and the balance the following year.  The reason at that time, according to Commissioner Rod Fleck (District 3), was to not overwhelm the voters with too many to consider on one ballot.)

Fleck, a Forks attorney, questioned the protocol of bringing up new business under “the good of the order.”  It usually covers such areas as birthdays and other minor items to be announced, he said, and is not intended for motions and other regular business.

Fleck pointed out that voting on a resolution at this time of the meeting was out of order; however, Chair John Miller stated that although it might be unusual, it could be considered.  After debate, the resolution, which had a motion and a second, was held over for a vote at the next meeting.

Turner took the floor again, this time to pass out a "Proposed Discussion Tool" survey form to the commissioners (see copy here).  The form was a survey, calling on the commissioners to prioritize their issues (and Turner had written four issues of her own interest to "get the commissioners started"), with the suggestion that a committee be formed to determine which topics had the most interest, and would therefore be discussed first.  The committee, according to the form, would compile the survey and send it out before the next commission meeting.

County attorney Mark Nichols rose quickly and called a halt to the process.  He said a yellow flag had gone up that this might be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.  He said he will research this, and volunteered to present an overview of the Open Meetings Act at the next meeting.  Turner claimed it was not a "survey", although the form itself states that it is.  

“Norma, it raises questions in my mind,” Nichols said.

”I did not call it a survey, put your thoughts down, which sometimes helps,” she insisted.

Nichols said he had questions on consensus.

Commissioner Sue Erzen (District 1) asked if the list would be okay to use if the ratings were disregarded.  Turner then folded the side of paper over, which included the column for ratings and suggested the remainder of the page be used.  That portion still included the ratings and numbers.

Nichols reiterated that he has a "consensus caution."

Commissioner Patti Adler (District 3) of Forks stated that issues are coming up, such as elections and DCD [Director of Community Development] director. “It does not matter what order,” she declared.
“ I choose to get feedback from my constituents,” said Commissioner Sue Forde (District 1). 

Commissioner Tom Schindler (District 3), mentioned a “community consensus road plan” he had worked on with a group.  He explained how the group worked together to form a consensus.  We need to “start with values and goals", he said. "We are a remodeling, not a building group.”

Fleck said he shared Sue Forde’s approach. He appeared surprised that more of the older items had not been submitted.  He mentioned the referendum section, which had been worked on previously and implied the importance of addressing that section. He also mentioned chairs for committee’s topics.

At the end of the agenda, Trish Holden, secretary for the charter commission, mentioned an email correspondence submitted by Commissioner Dave Cummins (District 1), which was sent to the chair John Miller, the previous Friday. She said he had included sections in the Charter he would like to see discussed. Chair John Miller replied that it would be appropriate to pass those out, which she did. (See Cummins' requested sections for discussion here.)

Cummins had also asked for the date to be changed for the meeting, and suggested January 22, in that the commission was meeting on Martin Luther King’s birthday.  “We are an elected body…I know of no other elected body, government organization, bank, or elected official in an official capacity that would be part of a governmental meeting on that holiday,” Cummins affirmed. He said he would not be attending the meeting, if it were held on January 15th.

Cummins had written the letter Friday January 12th to Miller, who responded on that date to Cummins.  Miller said he would have secretary Trish Holden, contact all members on that day.  “Thanks for bringing the issue up,” said Miller. Cummins’ submission had not been placed on the agenda by Miller.

Erzen said, “Although we are working together, not all of us focus in depth on one topic. Have committees,” she suggested.

John Miller announced, “Suggest new business items next time.” 

Commissioner Ken Wiersema (District 1) suggested committees for next time.

Forde mentioned that five years ago when she attended the commission meetings, the Commission went through the Charter itself, section by section, to determine which sections would be opened for discussion.

Sections had then been opened to work on by the charter members. "Are we going use that process this time as well? she queried the chair. 

Miller said it would be something like that.

“It seemed to work well,” remarked Forde.  Miller responded, “We can discuss manner.”  He said some sections were highlighted sections five years ago and some were not.

Turner made another appeal for her consensus handout.  She asked to use her “tool” to start on it. Immediately, Forde made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  It was seconded by Commissioner Terry Roth (District 2).

The next meeting of the charter commission is February 5th in Port Angeles.


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