December 3, 2013

Portland councilors vote to retain control over agenda

A disagreement has arisen about whether the mayor or the council ultimately controls meeting agendas.


By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Portland city councilors sought to resolve a power struggle between themselves and the popularly elected mayor Monday by voting to retain their control over which items get on their meeting agendas.

click image to enlarge

Jon Hinck, center, was sworn in at Portland City Hall as the newest Portland city councilor Monday, joining re-elected incumbents Edward Suslovic, left, and Jill Duson.

A disagreement about whether the mayor or the council has ultimate control over the agenda has arisen a few times since Mayor Michael Brennan took office, a sign that city officials have struggled to define their respective roles after voters decided two years ago to have a popularly elected mayor for the first time in 88 years.

Brennan has argued that the city charter, which says he directs the city manager in preparing the agenda, means he can decide what makes the cut.

Some councilors, however, have cited a council rule that says items are put on the agenda of the next meeting as long as they are submitted at least a week in advance.

The council’s Nominating Committee on Monday recommended passing a resolution to reaffirm councilors’ right to add items to the agenda.

Councilor Jill Duson said she thought interpreting the charter as giving the mayor the final say on the agenda was “an overread.”

Brennan said he felt the resolution was redundant “and potentially will be in conflict with the charter.”

The elected officials passed the resolution by a vote of 6-2, with Brennan and Councilor Edward Suslovic opposed.

The council voted to postpone most of the business on the agenda for the noontime meeting Monday, when the three councilors elected in November were sworn into office.

City Manager Mark Rees said the purpose was to keep from detracting from the inaugural ceremony.

The council’s newest member, former state Rep. Jon Hinck, joined re-elected Councilors Jill Duson and Edward Suslovic in taking the oath of office.

A reception was held after the meeting.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

Twitter: @lesliebridgers

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