JUNE 16, 1997

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Vote to not vote is derailed

"A total fiasco," says Councilmember Marsha Engel

failed resoltuion by Andrew Walgamott
A resolution introduced by Councilmembers Marsha Engel and Art Saulness to ban "final action" votes at Woodinville City Council study sessions failed at the June 9 meeting after three amendments to the resolution forced supporters to switch their votes.
   Councilmember Engel called the vote "a total fiasco" and termed the three amendments "killers" to the resolution. "I had to vote against my own motion because of the amendments," Engel said.
   Before voting on Resolution 126, which amended council procedures to say "No final action on any matter shall be taken by the City Council at any study session," Councilmember Lucy DeYoung added three amendments to the resolution. She moved to strike the 10 p.m. adjournment of council meetings and to strike rules setting aside the last 15 minutes of council sessions for councilmembers to discuss any item they may choose (both of which passed 4-3, with Councilmembers Engel, Saulness, and Solberg opposing). DeYoung also added sentences that said, "It is the goal of the council to end by 10 p.m." (passed 5-2, with Councilmembers Solberg and Engel opposing.)
   Members of the council appeared confused when it came time to vote on the resolution with attendant amendments. The first vote drew a staccato of response from the council, with five yes votes spaced out over five seconds.
   The council called for another vote. During the second vote, Councilmember DeYoung claimed that Councilmember Art Saulness had voted twice. Before the third vote, councilmembers twice called for clarification of what they were voting on.
   When the confusion cleared, the final vote was 3-4, with Councilmembers Solberg, DeYoung, and Deputy Mayor Don Brocha voting yes for a "no action" clause and Councilmember DeYoung's amendments, and Councilmembers Saulness, Engel, Scott Hageman, and Mayor Bob Miller voting no. The resolution died.
   Later, Councilmember DeYoung said that Councilmember Engel's resolution was flawed beause it allowed the "no final action" clause to be lifted by language to the effect that the council can, by a majority vote, temporarily waive the clause. "Marsha's [resolution] didn't do anything," DeYoung said.
   Mayor Miller said he voted in favor of Councilmember DeYoung's amendments because he didn't want to "artificially set an ending time" to the council meetings. But he said he voted against the main motion, calling it "very deceptive to the public" that the rules say no final action vote could be taken during a study session and still have a disclaimer that waived the rule if a majority wanted to take action.
   Councilmember DeYoung also expressed disappointment that the issue had taken away from valuable council time. "We have got the zoning code, the sign ordinance. We have to select a new city manager. We have a lot on our plates. To waste an hour and a half on an amendment that doesn't do anything is disappointing and sad," Councilmember DeYoung said.
   Mayor Miller said that he will be holding the council to their rules from now on. He said that during formal discussion, councilmembers would be allowed to speak only twice.