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Councilmember blasts committee appointment vote

In response to the Port Orchard City Council’s decision earlier this month to transfer committee-appointment power from the mayor to the council, Councilman Ron Rider has called for a reopening of the issue at the council’s first January meeting.

Rider, who was out of town for the Dec. 8 vote, raised objections to the council’s timing, which allowed outgoing Councilman Don Morrison to sponsor and vote on an issue that would go into effect after he left the council. Rider was also upset that, despite his absentee request to have the matter held over to the council’s Dec. 22 meeting — when Rider was present — the council went ahead and voted anyway.

“I’d like to say I don’t think it was right to not include myself or the new mayor or others who will be affected by it,” he said.

The ordinance, which somewhat resembles one that was attempted and failed in 2002, removed the mayor’s power to create council committees and gave it to the three most senior member members of the council. Those three would have the authority to create and dissolve committees and select and appoint chairs and members for those committees.

Under the ordinance, the council has no power to either reject or alter the senior three’s decisions, although it does stipulate the three should act “with input from the mayor and the other council members.”

Rider, who was elected in 2001, will not be one of those senior three.

In his statement to the council, Rider referenced the previous committee appointment ordinance attempt and said he was under the impression that the council decided it would work out committee appointments during retreats. He echoed some of the objections raised by citizens at the Dec. 8 meeting, who were concerned the council was creating an imbalance of power.

“I don’t have problem doing my job, but in my mind, this kind of divides the council; it makes it into a two-tiered system,” Rider said. “I feel it should be a joint system.”

“Since I’ve been back, I’ve already heard repercussions from angry and upset citizens — and not just those who were (at the council meeting Dec. 8),” he added.

At the Dec. 8 meeting, the council responded to many issues introduced by attending citizens, but declined to make any changes to the proposed ordinance. The measure passed 5-1, with Councilman Todd Cramer casting the sole dissenting vote.

Rider wants the ordinance brought back before the council and possibly amended. At the very least, he said, he wants the council to re-vote on the issue and give incoming Mayor Kim Abel and incoming Councilwoman Rita DiIenno a chance to formally comment.

DiIenno spoke at the Dec. 8 meeting, but only as a private citizen. Abel attended the meeting but chose not to speak.

At the Dec. 8 meeting, several council members also introduced the possibility of bringing the matter back before the council after the New Year, although at the time they were suggesting DiIenno be the one to do it.

“If the process described here does not work, it can easily be changed,” said Councilman John Clauson, who called himself an unofficial co-sponsor of the ordinance.

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