Bloomington city council’s “committee of the whole” to take second, maybe third try at non-consensual towing ordinance

At its regular meeting last Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council voted to refer a new non-consensual towing ordinance to the council’s committee of the whole for a second time.

Wednesday’s referral to the committee of the whole means the new law regulating towing companies that remove vehicles parked illegally on private property will get further consideration on Feb. 12.  But it won’t get a vote to enact it on that day.

The procedural vote, to refer the legislation to the committee of the whole,  was split 7–2. That’s because councilmembers are not yet in alignment about how they want to use smaller, four-member committees, compared to the committee of the whole, in their legislative process.

It’s been a point of friction since the start of the year.

Some key features of the new law include a $350 annual license and a cap on fees charged to vehicle owners of $125 for the towing, $25 for any special equipment needed (like a dolly), and $25 per day for storage. As currently drafted, the law also requires an option for someone to get their vehicle released by paying 20 percent of fees with a signed payment agreement for the balance. Continue reading “Bloomington city council’s “committee of the whole” to take second, maybe third try at non-consensual towing ordinance”

Pitch for Bloomington city council standing committees seen by executive branch as a fastball

“Is council a co-equal branch of government or isn’t it?” That’s a rhetorical question posed by Steve Volan, this year’s president of Bloomington’s city council, about the relationship between the council and the city’s administration.

Volan asked the question during a contentious work session held last Friday afternoon in city hall’s Hooker Conference Room. All nine councilmembers attended at least part of the session, along with a dozen and half staff members, among them several department heads and deputy mayor Mick Renneisen.

The friction that emerged between Volan and staff members, and with some of Volan’s city council colleagues, stemmed from a pending resolution, introduced by Volan at the city council’s first meeting of the year, on Jan. 8.

Volan proposes to use existing city code to establish seven four-member standing committees. Already established is a land use committee, to which zoning legislation has been referred for the last two years. Continue reading “Pitch for Bloomington city council standing committees seen by executive branch as a fastball”

Bloomington city council punts question of standing committees to end of January

On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council began its year with an organizational meeting that featured a split vote.

What generated some controversy at the start of the term was a proposal from newly named council president, Steve Volan, to use existing local code to establish several four-member standing committees. They would add to the existing land use committee.

Six of the nine councilmembers, led by outgoing council president Dave Rollo, wanted to postpone a vote on Volan’s proposal for three weeks, until Jan. 29. Susan Sandberg was vocal in her opposition to establishing standing committees, pointing out that she’d heard similar proposals three times before from Volan, during her time serving on the council.

Three councilmembers, including Volan, would have been content to postpone the question until next week, Jan. 15. But they thought the three-week wait was unnecessary. The 6–3 vote to postpone until Jan. 29 came after about 90 minutes of debate.

Near the start of the meeting, the naming of  Volan as president, Jim Sims vice president, and Isabel Piedmont-Smith parliamentarian was done by a unanimous voice vote. Continue reading “Bloomington city council punts question of standing committees to end of January”

Bloomington city councilmember: It’s now time for standing committees, and time limits on speaking turns

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At its Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 work session,  Bloomington city councilmember Steve Volan introduces the specifics of one possible approach to establishing a slate of four-member standing committees, to which the city council could refer legislation. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

At a work session held on Friday, Bloomington city councilmember Steve Volan introduced a proposal he’s put on the agenda for the council’s first meeting of the year, on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Volan’s resolution would use existing city code to establish several four-member standing committees, adding to the already-existing land use committee. The land use committee is the subset of councilmembers to which planned unit developments (PUDs) have been referred for the last couple years, after getting a first reading in front of the council.

Much of Friday’s discussion focused on the role of standing committees in the process of approving legislation. But Volan’s arguments for standing committees include the idea of better equipping the council, as the legislative branch, to carry out its defined role as a check on the executive. Continue reading “Bloomington city councilmember: It’s now time for standing committees, and time limits on speaking turns”