Columbiana council meeting rules eyed

COLUMBIANA – Mayor Bryan Blakeman is continuing to assert his authority and won’t back down even if people don’t like him.

The mayor made the statement after Councilman Dick Simpson addressed him about his performance as mayor.

Referring to the March 25 special meeting called by Blakeman that Simpson said ended up being a “public hearing” that was not advertised as such, Simpson said he is concerned the mayor will make a habit of calling more special meetings.

He also told him to stop interrupting others during the meetings.

“You do that quite often when someone else is talking, and I know you don’t mean it and don’t mean anything by it, but it happens,” he said.

Councilman Dan Bekar said Blakeman could back down some.

“You know, Mayor, I think you have some good ideas, I really do, but sometimes for the good of the community you kind of push those a little bit, it bothers me,” he said of the mayor’s duties.

He said specifically that during the special meeting Blakeman should have pounded the gavel to create order when things were getting tense.

“These people are relatively calm tonight but the other night it was out of control We were jeered, we were yelled at and we were booed because somebody wanted a decision made that night,” he said.

The mayor is responsible for running the meeting.

Simpson said council should follow Robert’s Rules of Order and then requested the Rules of Council ordinance be changed to exclude the words “presiding officer” from section G.

According to that section motions may not be open for discussion until properly seconded by a member of council or the presiding officer, which is the mayor.

Simpson said later Blakeman and other mayors have not seconded motions to date, but he wished the wording to be changed for the future. That wording is also not listed in the City’s Charter, he said.

He also pointed out council holds discussions on matters several times before a second is made, which is not following the proper procedure.

Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell didn’t recommend abiding by Robert’s Rules of Order completely but said adopting some portions was fine.

“There are provisions in Robert’s Rules of Order that are not consistent with our past procedure, particularly with regards to use of abstentions. I have a real concern about just adopting Robert’s Rules of Order. I think there is another way to do it and that is to examine which of those rules you’d like to adopt and do so on a limited basis,” he said.

Council approved the motion to exclude presiding officer from the ordinance. They did not act on following Robert’s Rules.

The mayor is not allowed to make motions, although he may suggest them, as he did at the special meeting. He may only vote when a tie occurs on council.

“I don’t intend to overstep my bounds, but I absolutely positively will not back down from what job is supposed be. I think my opinion is no less valid in doing so. I don’t intend to delve into everything, but I absolutely positively will watch over it like a hawk,” Blakeman said.

During the meeting Blakeman suggested council amend the ordinance establishing a surcharge for users of the city water to show that money generated be put toward the water plant only and not salaries, insurance and maintenance as listed in the ordinance. Council approved the motion.

Council then approved a first reading of the legislation. Two readings are required before a vote, and if passed the additional charge would appear on the June 1st billing cycle.