up short of
rules meeting participants
Only four members
of County Council showed up for an executive committee meeting
called to consider a change to Council's rules of order. Since
that was short of a seven-member quorum, the proposal was put
off for a week.
The four -- Council
president Thomas Kovach, Lisa Diller, David Tackett and
Robert Weiner -- were among the five Council members who a week
earlier had voted at an executive committee meeting
against a procedural rule requiring the president of Council to
sign ordinances and resolutions passed by Council within five
business days. The rule, which was approved by an eight-to-five
vote, was regarded as a political slap at Kovach who had refused
to sign a previous controversial resolution lifting deed
restrictions on a property at Bear.
restrictions resolution still has not been signed. The rule
change, introduced by Councilman Penrose Hollins, does not
require a signature and presumably does not apply retroactively.
It was not clear
whether the absence of a quorum at the meeting on Mar. 1 was a
Two members -- John
Cartier and Janet Kilpartick -- had previously been excused from
attending committee meetings that day. Hollins, Bill Bell, William Powers, Joseph Reda, Timothy Sheldon, George
Smiley and Jea Street had attended two earlier Council
committee meetings. Bell had also voted against the signing
Wilmington resident John Flaherty, who has been active with
several 'good-government' organizations, filed a complaint with
the attorney general's office alleging that the state's Freedom
of Information Act was violated because the signing resolution
was not listed on the published agenda of the Feb. 22 executive
committee meeting. Flaherty attended that meeting, which was
open to the public.
He alleged that the
new rule, introduced by Hollins, was a "substantive matter"
subject to the information law.
He also complained
that another proposed rule change, which was discussed but not
acted upon on Feb. 22, should have been included on the agenda.
That second rule,
proposed by Tackett, was to have been a topic at the Mar. 1
committee meeting. It would amend the rules to require that
legislation relating to land use matters specify in its title
the subdivision or project involved.
Although Council on
Feb. 22 unanimously enacted a resolution sponsored by Tackett
that all legislation contain in its title and summary sufficient
information to define its purpose, the agenda for the Mar. 1
committee meeting identified Tackett's proposed rule change
simply as an "amendment to New Castle County Rule 2.2."
Diller at the Mar.
1 meeting brought forth another proposed rule change that would
require that proposed rules amendments be provided in writing to
Council members and posted as public notice a week in advance.
If for any reason that is not possible, they should be
distributed to members at least six hours prior to the committee
meeting at which they are to be considered and the reason for
the delay be stated on the published agenda.
She explained that
she intended that that change not be acted upon immediately but
considered on Mar. 8.
During conversation at the abbreviated meeting it was noted that
Council rules do not provide for any penalties if they are
violated. "Without sanctions these rules become simply
guidelines," Kovach remarked.