Thursday, August 09, 2007

…While Rome Burned

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

On the way to the city council meeting Monday, there was a large smoke cloud over the west mesa where there was a brush fire raging. It burned over 500 acres and was contained by the Albuquerque City, Bernalillo County and Rancho De Albuquerque Fire Departments. There were no injuries or structures damaged.

Emperor Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus (AD 15 - AD 68) was accused of having fiddled while Rome burned. Any parallels locally?

This is City Councillor Don Harris as he waits in the hot seat for a vote on how his recall election would be handled by his fellow councillors.

Late Monday night his wait ended when a decision was made that there would be a special paper ballot for District nine voters during the Oct. 2 regularly scheduled metropolitan election. All city voters will have ballot issues; charter amendments on councillors pay raises, recall requirements and even numbered council districts will select councillors.

The motion to hold a special election on the recall passed 7-1-1. Councillors: Debbie O'Malley, Sally Mayer, Isaac Benton, Brad Winter, Martin Heinrich, Craig Loy and Don Harris voted for, while Michael Cadigan voted against. Ken Sanchez was excused for a family emergency.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The problem is that Harris was named in the resolution. He should have removed himself from the issue and not cast a vote.

Though he didn’t vote in his direct interest, an elected office holder should never vote on an issue with their name in it.

Harris isn’t the only one to blame the other councillors and Council President O'Malley, in particular, because she carried the legislation at the request of the administration and should have suggested Harris recuse himself.

As council president, O'Malley is deficient in the running of meetings. She has a bad habit of not handling motions and seconds with the formality that allows the public to know who made a motion and who seconded it. She often fails to announce the outcome of votes by the numbers; for and against.

O'Malley is just the last in a long line of many councilors who have run council or committee meetings over the years that have apparently not bothered to educate themselves. The starting point is to read the council's own rules followed by a reading of and acquainting themselves with Robert's Rules of Order. There have been a few council leaders who seem to have a handle on running meetings. Leaders do more than just run meetings and politics plays a major role in their ability to do their expanded duties.

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