Bloomington city council creates standing committees on 5–4 vote

At Wednesday’s regular meeting, after about two hours of deliberation, Bloomington’s city council voted 5-4 to establish eight new four-member standing committees.

Wednesday’s vote means that after a first reading of a new local law, the council will now have the option of referring the legislation to any of the standing committees for further consideration. And as one consequence of local code, a standing committee can meet twice on a referred proposal, before it has to report back to the full council. Continue reading “Bloomington city council creates standing committees on 5–4 vote”

Next week’s agenda: Will a majority of Bloomington city council support standing committees?

At a work session held Friday afternoon, city council president Steve Volan and other councilmembers heard again from city staff about Volan’s proposal to establish several four-member standing committees.

The proposal—which is a resolution, not a new ordinance—will appear on the council’s agenda next week (Feb. 19) for a third time. It was first heard on Jan. 8, postponed until Jan. 29, then put off again until next week.

The smaller standing committees would replace the “committee of the whole” in the regular legislative process.

Under Volan’s proposal, the standing committees would also play an oversight role for departments in the administration.

First introduced on Jan. 8, Volan’s initial proposal met with resistance from city department heads. Volan has since clarified that he means “oversight” in the sense of “inspect or examine.” Volan says the standing committees are not meant to exercise oversight in the sense of supervisory authority.

Volan’s proposal has also met with some opposition among the same councilmembers that voted 9–0 on Jan. 8—their first public meeting of the year—to put him in the president’s chair. If the council gives the standing committee resolution a final vote next Wednesday, the tally could be a 5–4 or 4–5 split. Continue reading “Next week’s agenda: Will a majority of Bloomington city council support standing committees?”

Question of standing committees delayed until late February by Bloomington’s city council, uncertain future next week for local towing law

On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to postpone, until Feb. 19, council president Steve Volan’s resolution on establishing several council standing committees.

The unanimous vote on the postponement went smoother than the subsequent discussion of the council’s schedule for next week. That’s when an ordinance regulating non-consensual towing will appear on the agenda for a second reading.

The procedural options for the council’s Feb. 5 action on the towing ordinance include rejection, adoption, postponement, or referral to an ad hoc committee.

On Wednesday, council attorney/administrator Dan Sherman wanted direction from councilmembers on how to portray the towing ordinance item on the the Feb. 5 agenda.

Sherman’s question was resolved by the council in favor of an agenda note. The note will indicate that public commentary will be heard on the towing ordinance, but will also state that the ordinance might be referred to a committee. Continue reading “Question of standing committees delayed until late February by Bloomington’s city council, uncertain future next week for local towing law”

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”