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Council to debate committee assignments

The Port Orchard City Council had a discussion on Monday night at its regularly scheduled meeting on a subject that, two years ago, turned out to be one of the most heated debates the council had ever had — committee assignment.

The issue of council committees has been a hotly contentious one ever since, during the last council meeting of 2003, an outgoing council member presented an ordinance that proposed taking committee appointment power away from the mayor and giving it to a committee of the three most senior council members, which then were — and still are — Carolyn Powers, Bob Geiger and John Clauson.

The “committee committee” was passed over the objections of three sitting council members and incoming council member Rita DiIenno, who wanted the vote to wait until the council membership turned over in January 2004.

Tension increased in January as the committee committee delayed approving new committee assignments until February, instead allowing the old committee assignments to stand on a temporary basis.

Finally, Councilmembers Todd Cramer, Ron Rider, Rick Wyatt and DiIenno pressured Powers, Geiger and Clauson into dissolving the committee committee and letting existing committee appointments stand until the council could meet as a whole in June of 2004 and lay out new assignments.

Those assignments are valid through the end of this year.

The finance committee is considered a plum council assignment, and changes to the committee have, in the past, been highly controversial.

DiIenno could not attend Monday night’s discussion, although she said Thursday she hoped the council would not decide to revert to the senior councilmembers assigning others to a particular committee.

“I hope it continues to be a fair process,” DiIenno said.

There are seven regular committees for which the councilmembers attend meetings and discuss upcoming business items with the stakeholders so as to make recommendations to the full council when the business comes up on the agenda.

The committees are Economic Development, Growth Management, Finance, Public Safety, Public Property, Utilities and the Street Committee.

There is also a Sewer Advisory Committee, comprised of Councilmembers and Karcher Creek staff and an Ad Hoc Committee for miscellaneous assignments.

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