After our front-page story last week on proposed changes to the City Council code of conduct, Pacifica City Manager Kevin Woodhouse was kind enough to try and explain where he thought we went wrong.
Some of those — myself included — who listened into the council discussion on Sept. 12 clearly left with the impression that proposed changes would limit the ability of a single council member to add items to the council agenda. I wrote that items deemed controversial by the city manager would then go to the full council to decide whether the proposed item was worth the time to pursue. Woodhouse was adamant that really the “change” is codifying what is already the practice. He says the only real change is asking that council members give him 10 days rather than seven to work on the staff report.
After some emailing back and forth, he acknowledged that the word “controversial” may be a bit controversial itself. Or at least nebulous.
“It’s really a question of the expenditure of staff resources (time/money); it just so happens that if an issue is controversial it also usually means the issue is complex and would require significant staff resources to analyze in the report to City Council,” he wrote in an email to me. “As city manager, I am uniquely situated by virtue of my role, to be able to assess with staff input the impact on staff resources of any given issue that may be raised.”
Woodhouse also said there could be some confusion over what it means to put an item on the agenda. While any council member may put things on the agenda, not everything can be analyzed and ready for council action at the next meeting.
The code was discussed at some length, but council members ultimately decided to bring it back for a vote at an upcoming meeting. We appreciate the city manager speaking up when he thinks we missed some nuance. We just want to get it right.
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