Around Town | February 22, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 22, 2013

Around Town

BY CONSENT ... Palo Alto officials really want to speed things up at City Council meetings, even if it means holding late discussions focused on how to do so. Last week, the council once again tackled the thorny subject and agreed to make one change designed to make the meetings faster: requiring three rather than two council members to pull an item off the "consent calendar." The calendar, a list of usually non-controversial issues, is approved as a slate each week by the council with a single vote and without discussion. With only two council members, it was easier to pull an item off the consent calendar and hold sometimes lengthy discussions prior to a vote. On Feb. 11, the council approved the change. Councilman Larry Klein, who dissented along with Greg Schmid and Karen Holman, said he doesn't think the rule change would make any difference because council members generally have no trouble getting support of colleagues for pulling calendars off consent as a courtesy. Mayor Greg Scharff disagreed and criticized the practice of pulling items off consent "for discussion purposes only," even if the outcome is certain to remain the same. He argued in favor of the change: "I think it will streamline our meetings." The council also considered automatically placing all recommendations from local boards and commissions on the consent calendar, rather than reviewing them, unless the mayor, the commission or the city manager recommends otherwise. The change would have potentially given more decision-making power to the commissions and boards. But the proposal failed by a 3-6 vote, with only Scharff, Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd and Councilwoman Liz Kniss voting yes.

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