Anaheim Council Members Want Changes in Meeting Rules

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Anaheim City Council members Harry Sidhu and Kris Murray want to change the way business is done at City Hall.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Sidhu asked city staff to draft an “open disclosure act” that would prohibit the city from using taxpayer funds to “sponsor an event for an organization” or “direct an employee, sitting council member or appointed official.”

Murray asked that staff suggest revisions to the way council agendas are set and meetings are conducted. Murray said that she wanted the rules to reflect Robert’s Rules of Order, the “internationally accepted” standard for meeting deliberations.

What motivated Murray and Sidhu to ask for such changes is unclear, but it’s no secret that Sidhu was riled about an impromptu town hall meeting in January attended by Mayor Tom Tait, Councilwoman Lorri Galloway and interim City Manager Bob Wingenroth.

Tait had called for a special City Council meeting to reconsider the vote granting a $158-million tax subsidy for the development of two new hotels at the GardenWalk center. But the three council members who had voted for the subsidy — Sidhu, Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman – didn’t attend.

Lacking a quorum needed for a meeting, Tait, Galloway and Wingenroth decided to open the council chambers anyway and let a group of protesters vent their anger at the subsidy and the council members who approved it.

Sidhu railed against Tait and Wingenroth at a Council meeting earlier this month for opening the council chambers, and he said it was wrong because turning on the lights cost taxpayer money.

Sidhu was a strong proponent of the subsidy. Organizations and individuals connected to the hoteliers in the deal contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Sidhu’s various campaigns for elected offices. The Orange County District Attorney’s office has opened an inquiry into whether $3,400 of those contributions were illegal.

Neither Murray nor Sidhu could be reached immediately for comment.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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