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September 5, 2008 - 3:34pm

On the Agenda (City Council): Rules of behavior...

Batavia's City Council agenda looks relatively uncontroversial—and we can all use a break, I'm sure—for their coming meeting Monday. During the business session, the group will vote on mostly financial issues, such as the "resolution to transfer $15,700 from the contingency account to the finance department professional fees and training accounts in the 2008-2009 general fund budget for the purpose of satisfying additional fees associated with the annual audit and training." Phew. Let's take a breath there. Does anyone else get a kick out of knowing that "fees" can be satisfied?

Seriously, though, Council will also take up the recently reviewed "Council Member Rules," which were brought back to the table by Council President Charlie Mallow during the conference session of the meeting two weeks ago. Rules include:

Council members understand that the time of the professional staff is valuable and will limit discussions and phone conversation during business hours to reasonable amounts of time.

Council members shall not use their position to intimidate Staff to secure a request.

Council members agree to act through the office of the City Manager and will not directly or indirectly give order or make request of department heads or City employees...

Council members are not to give direction or to give orders to any Staff member...

And so on... Do you see a pattern here? Or should I say blatant repetition: not to give orders, not to giver orders? Every rule seems to be a variation on the theme of: leave the staff alone. In fact, it seems that the "Council Member Rules" could be that one simple rule, and perhaps the title ought to reflect that, since no other type of rules are discussed.

Council will also vote to authorize the Center for Governmental Research to conduct a consolidation for the city and town of Batavia.

Click on the link below to download the agenda for the business meeting and the details regarding the agreement with the Center for Governmental Research:

Council will meet at 7:00pm at City Hall.

John Roach
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Too bad a rule has to be made to keep some council members from causing problems. You would think they could control their ego and let the manager do his job without having to be told to behave.
Gabor Deutsch
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I hope they dont have to break out the tear gas. Its expensive but it might bring out the media.
Philip Anselmo
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John: These rules are not a new creation. They date from 1992.
Charlie Mallow
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Let me try to give you a brief history of our rules situation. There are three sets of rules that council uses to govern itself. On January 1st the new council made sweeping changes to our internal rules to increase oversight and make it easier for members to bring issues to the floor. The new rules were adopted on January 1st in a 6-2 vote. At the time there was a disagreement over some of the new changes. That disagreement was cleared up with a compromise. On the 14th of January, two of the three sets of rules were passed unanimously. That left one set of rules up in the air. The changes to the third set of rules centered on the idea that council should have liaisons to city departments. There has been no common ground found on that third set of rules to date. Without a compromise, I believe our best course of action is to abandon the liaison idea. That is what this vote is about. I believe there is a majority of council willing to respect the wishes of some on council and not move forward with this liaison idea without a unanimous vote of council.
Philip Anselmo
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Charlie: Thanks for the background.

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