City council committee pores over coffee rules, grounds its work on city employee manual

At last week’s meeting of the Bloomington city council’s rules committee, Isabel Piedmont-Smith said at one point to her colleagues, “A cup of coffee? Come on, I don’t care!”

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Not a topic of discussion by the Bloomington city council’s rules committee was the question of fancy thumb rests on coffee mugs. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The specific question of whether councilmembers should allow someone to buy them a cup of coffee was not on the committee’s agenda.

But the issue arose as they were sorting through the contents of the city’s employee manual.

Chair of the committee, Steve Volan, said the manual requires city employees to report any gratuities, courtesies and prizes, like meals and beverages to the city’s ethics officer—if they receive such items during the course of normal working hours.

For the committee, Volan said, that meant a decision about whether councilmembers should report their receipt of courtesies, like cups of coffee. And if councilmembers are supposed to report the courtesies, to whom should they be reported? Continue reading “City council committee pores over coffee rules, grounds its work on city employee manual”

From the public speaking podium to the ear of the rules committee: Floor amendments

Carol Thompson took a turn at the public podium during the Bloomington city council’s meeting on the night of Aug. 14. She objected to some legislation the council had approved the week before, which regulated electric scooters.

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On Aug. 14, Carol Thompson spoke about scooter legislation that had been approved the week before by the city council. (CATS screenshot)

Besides her lack of enthusiasm for one amendment, which under certain conditions allows scooter parking on the soft-scape between the sidewalk and the street, Thompson conveyed an objection to the process. “The public had no advanced notice that this amendment was going to be introduced and voted on, during the same night,” she said.

That amendment on scooter parking had not been a part of the original package of legislation or included in the legislative packet distributed the Friday before. It was added the same night “from the floor” by councilmember Steve Volan. Still, as an amendment to other legislation, it apparently conformed with the council’s general procedure, laid out in Title 2 of the city code, that “Every ordinance shall be given two readings before a vote may be taken on its passage…”

The following morning, as the hour approached 9 a.m., Thompson’s words got an implicit mention at a meeting of the city council’s rules committee meeting. The council’s administrator/attorney, Dan Sherman, asked towards the end of the committee meeting when it would be appropriate to suggest an additional topic for the rules committee’s consideration.

When Volan, who chairs the rules committee, gave him the nod, Sherman said: “Thinking about last night, it would be be nice to talk about floor amendments and how we handle them.”

Volan’s quick response was: “Good call.” None of other members of the committee—Dorothy Granger, Jim Sims and Isabel Piedmont-Smith, or city clerk Nicole Bolden (ex officio)—had an objection to adding floor amendments to the set of items to be considered. Continue reading “From the public speaking podium to the ear of the rules committee: Floor amendments”

City Council’s rules committee makes council personnel a top priority

At the first substantive meeting of the Bloomington city council’s rules committee on Friday, a few priorities were identified for future work.

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The notice that was posted for the meeting of the council’s rules committee on Friday, Aug. 5, 2019. A week earlier, an attempted meeting of the committee was abandoned when questions arose over adequate notice under Indiana’s Open Door law.

The four top priorities are: the council’s personnel; meeting procedures, including time limits; a council policy manual; and a clean-up of city code on boards and commissions.

Those items were identified by the four-member committee, which now consists of Steve Volan, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Jim Sims and Dorothy Granger. Granger is the council’s vice president. She was added to the committee by the council’s president, Dave Rollo, in the week since the rules committee’s first attempted meeting.

Personnel was elevated to top priority for the committee’s next meeting, because council administrator/attorney Dan Sherman is hiring a deputy administrator/attorney to fill a recent vacancy. And Sherman is planning to retire sometime in the next several months.

Councilmembers at Friday’s committee meeting were keen to have some input on the hire of Sherman’s deputy. They also said they wanted Sherman to be the one who makes the decision. Continue reading “City Council’s rules committee makes council personnel a top priority”

Bloomington city council rules committee off to rough start

A meeting of the Bloomington city council rules committee on Monday evening was postponed to some other time, after less than 10 minutes of conversation.

The council’s administrator/attorney, Dan Sherman, questioned whether the meeting had been properly noticed, and that led to some sharp exchanges between him and City Clerk Nicole Bolden, an ex officio member of the committee.

When Bolden told Sherman, “…your behavior has been reprehensible, and incredibly rude and unprofessional,” councilmember Steve Volan, who was chairing the proceedings, said, “I think we should postpone this meeting.”

The rules committee has not existed for something like a decade, but was reconstituted by city council president Dave Rollo at the council’s June 12 meeting. Rollo named councilmembers Volan, Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Jim Sims to the committee and Bolden as an ex officio member.

Continue reading “Bloomington city council rules committee off to rough start”