Anaheim City Council members changed their policy for how items make it onto the agenda for the second time in three months, voting Tuesday to scrap a provision that allows a majority of the council to deny a colleague’s request to place an item on the agenda.
The resolution, which passed 4-2 with Councilmen Jose Moreno and James Vanderbilt voting no, was proposed by Councilwoman Kris Murray, who pitched the change as an issue of equity.
Mayor Tom Tait was absent, having left the meeting early to catch a flight.
“I don’t think the majority of [a councilmember’s] colleagues should be able to tell them that they can’t bring an item forward,” Murray said.
She said by voting on the item, councilmembers would have “full, unfettered authority to agendize items on [behalf of your constituents] without the risk of your item being vetoed by your colleagues.”
The change will also help Murray, who since the November election has found herself in the unusual position of being on the losing end of votes.
Moreno questioned why Murray was bringing the change forward now, when she had voted twice, in 2012 and 2013, to approve changes to the council’s agenda setting rules without objecting to this provision.
“This is the third iteration of review of this policy,” said Moreno. “I think we’re just continuing to change policies and we need to be consistent.”
Councilwoman Denise Barnes asked Murray if her request was precipitated by a specific incident, to which Murray said: “This is a concern about a procedure. I’m not saying there was anything done against me. This isn’t just about you and I, here and now.”
Councilwoman Lucille Kring noted that, when the council was first sworn on Dec. 13, Moreno and other new council members placed several items on the agenda, causing those meetings to go late into the night.
“None of us questioned you, none of us said, ‘no you can’t do it,’” Kring said. “It does a disservice to your electorate if you start nitpicking about who can put what on.”
Among the first actions of the new city council majority in December was to reverse a 2013 vote that rescinded the mayor’s ability to place items on the agenda.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait proposed that reversal as part of a series of actions he said would “restore” powers of his office that had been stripped by the previous council majority.
In 2013 the council justified the move as an effort to enhance transparency, although allies of Tait saw the vote as political retaliation against Tait for his votes against controversial hotel subsidies.
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