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Proposed City Council norms and procedures ignite controversy

Councilman TimBen Boydston questions constitutionality

Posted: October 10, 2012 9:00 a.m.
Updated: October 10, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Based on who you ask, the Santa Clarita City Council’s edits to its norms and procedures are either a work in progress or unconstitutional.

The latter view was expressed at Tuesday’s council meeting by Councilman TimBen Boydston, who read off a list of ways he believes the new procedures violate constitutional law. Boydston raised issue with many of the proposed changes, including rules regarding council interactions with the press and resolutions requiring council members to go through the city manager for some inquiries or requests.

Mayor Frank Ferry stressed throughout the meeting that the proposed document is meant to be taken as a draft, not as a finished product. Ferry said he and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar worked with city staff to hammer out the framework of the changes in order to put into writing what the council already does.

One of the written stipulations that generated the most discussion was a proposed language change that would require a verbal agreement of a majority of council members to put an item on the agenda. Ferry said this was an example of one of the council’s formerly unwritten rules and a way to keep the council agenda from being filled with items that have little chance of passing. Boydston claimed this change could give council members leeway to keep silent on issues they do not wish to discuss publicly.

“It is not my colleagues I am most worried about serving,” Boydston said. “It is my constituents.”   

Kellar said he thought there was something else that went into interpreting the rules: common sense. He also criticized many of the assertions made regarding the proposed changes.

“We’re not trying to infringe on people’s rights or to infringe upon your Constitution, for crying out loud,” Kellar said.

Ferry said recommendations of the council and members of the public will be taken into account in further discussions on the matter. No action was taken on the proposed rule changes.



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