Numerous neighborhood association representatives made their voices heard at the Sept. 7 City Council meeting, enough so in fact that the Council chose to shelf an amendment that would alter the city’s relationship with the associations until a later date.
The Councilors, who approved a change that would classify the associations as nongovernmental on Aug. 17, agreed to revisit the language of the amendment after failing to see a consensus among the neighborhood association represenatatives.
“It was nice to see other councilors recognize that as we fiddle with the language (of the ordinance amendment) it was creating problems,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jodie Barram.
A general uncertainty as to what sort of record keeping the associations would be required to keep during their meetings was one of the problems cited by the neighborhood representatives.
Also murky was the ordinance’s wording on how the associations would be allowed to spend their “grant proceeds” — or city funds. It was proposed that the only spending limitation be for ballot measures, and the nebulous wording “or for other political advocacy” should be omitted from the current draft.
Agreeing to revisit the issue pleased Councilor Barram who, along with Councilor Clinton, had previously voted against the change.
Barram said she fears that a certain level of inequality might arise among the associations as some neighborhoods may be better off financially than others. The Mayor Pro Tem also worries about transparency, since the associations would no longer be required to open their doors to all during meetings.
Suspending a vote during a second reading of the motion is a rare event, said Barram — a testament to strength in numbers. At least eight of the 13 neighborhood chairs were in attendance on Sept. 7.
City Council will again vote on the issue within the next couple of months. In the meantime, a roundtable group containing neighborhood association representatives, city staff and Councilors will endeavor to make the language of the ordinance more amenable.
(photo: Brian Turner/flickr)