01/07/2014 Council Preview – Changing of the Guard

This is a largely ceremonial and usually emotional evening – the two-year changing of the guard.  Expect a packed house.  I’ll describe what I believe will happen as part of the ceremony, but it’s from memory, so I may be off on some details.

First, an administrative note.  Starting in 2014, the city is transitioning to a new agenda system called iLegislate.  As a result, you will immediately see differences in the way the agendas appear on the city’s website, as well as differences in the formatting of the individual RTCs.  I’m still getting used to it, but I’ve played with the new iPad iLegislate app, and it’s a marked improvement from paging through a single huge PDF file, which was the old way for those of us who go paperless.  So I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be an improvement.

The format of this meeting is a little different than usual, because we have two parts to the meeting – one part with the old council, and one part with the new council.  There are no study sessions, no closed sessions, and no presentations.  The first part of the meeting is handled as one giant special order, although it has its own consent calendar, consisting of just the minutes from the last meeting.  Traditionally, only those people in attendance of a meeting vote on its minutes, so we separate them from the main consent calendar.

First up is certification of the 2013 election results for the three council seats.  We already certified the results for the ballot measures.  This item is somewhat weirdly bifurcated because of past problems certifying seats when the election results took time to tabulate.  So we certify the candidate results at the swearing-in, and we certify the ballot measure results whenever they’re ready.

Then we recognize the outgoing councilmembers, first with Councilmember Moylan, then recognizing me as the outgoing Vice Mayor, then Mayor Spitaleri.  I believe Mayor Spitaleri will lead the first two, and I’ll lead the third.  This consists of an introductory speech by the Mayor or me, followed by speeches by the outgoing member.

We then swear in the new councilmembers, I assume in seat order (which would mean Councilmember-elect Larsson, then Councilmember-elect Hendricks, then me).  This involves each of us being sworn in by someone of our choice, followed by a speech from the newly-sworn member.

After this, we’re likely to take a break, after which the new folks will be seated (simply taking one of the empty seats).  I will be seated in the Mayor’s spot, since I’m Mayor Pro-tem until council selects a new mayor. For this part, we move the consent calendar a little later, as the first order of business is to select a new Mayor and Vice Mayor.

Next up is the selection of the Mayor for 2014 and 2015.  We have a two-year mayor, but the shift to even-year elections throws a wrinkle into things.  This will be handled by having a two-year mayoral term first, then a one-year mayoral term to bring us to the 2016 election, then a return to non-stop two-year terms.  Councilmembers will nominate candidates (other than themselves).  The candidates are then given an opportunity to state their case, in nomination order.  We then vote, again in nomination order, holding tie-breaking votes if necessary until one candidate gets at least four votes.  Council policy says that each councilmember may vote for only one candidate (although it’s silent on whether or not a councilmember must vote on at least one candidate).  Traditionally, councilmembers will vote “yes” or “abstain”, just as with the appointment of boardmembers or commissioners.  This is because an abstention represents “I simply like a different candidate better” rather than “I oppose your appointment”.  When a mayor is selected, the new mayor and I will switch places, and the new mayor will run the rest of the meeting.

Next comes the selection of the Vice Mayor for 2014.  This is done identical to the selection of the Mayor, except for a one-year term, and except that the Vice Mayor does not immediately switch seats.  Only the Mayor switch seats during this meeting, because with the voting process and nameplates and such, switching seats is something of a big deal, so it’s only done when necessary.  And only the change of Mayor makes it necessary.

From here, we return to the normal method of running a meeting – public announcements, the consent calendar, and public comments.  The consent calendar is light – just the bills, the 2014 council meeting calendar, and a second reading of an ordinance rezoning a small piece of property on Fair Oaks.

First item of regular business is our annual public hearing for potential study issues.  We can submit study issues right up until January 17th, in advance of the all-day study/budget issue workshop on February 7th.  Our study issues effectively represent Council’s workplan.  There is no action to be taken on this issue other than to listen to public input, although it is often the case that public input may provoke sponsorship of new potential study issues.

Next comes the 2014 inter-governmental relations and subcommittee assignments.  During non-election years, this is pretty simple, as the only changes come when councilmembers want to relinquish assignments.  But during an election year such as this one, there may be multiple people interested in a new vacancy, so resolving this one may take some time.

Next is to approve our 2014 priority and legislative advocacy positions.  We take positions on topics of interest, which then authorizes staff and the Mayor to advocate for those positions.  As an example, we have a standing position supporting the reduction of certain tax issues to less than a supermajority (library construction bonds require 2/3 votes, while school bonds require only 55%).  If the state legislature takes up such an issue, our standing position allows the Mayor and/or staff to advocate to the state legislature on behalf of the full council or the City of Sunnyvale for our position.  Staff is proposing a few changes involving some timely issues.

Next is an issue that Mayor Spitaleri raised at the last meeting – possibly creating a council subcommittee or task force to study paramedic services.  As Mayor Spitaleri explained it, this would be a resurrection of an older blue-ribbon committee to look at our paramedic services in light of the recent difficulties with RuralMetro and our general service difficulties.

And the last item is to make the council seating arrangements for 2014.  The Mayor gets no say, obviously.  The Vice Mayor gets to pick second, and he or she is usually seated to the right or left of the Mayor.  Usually, the Vice Mayor picks my current seat, because of the positioning of the speaker lights and speaker cards (the Vice Mayor is supposed to back-stop the Mayor in keeping the cards organized and in tracking the order in which the speaker lights come on).  After that, seats are selected in seniority order, with ties broken by vote counts.  So the seniority order, Mayor and Vice Mayor notwithstanding, is

  • Councilmember Whittum
  • Me
  • Councilmember Meyering
  • Councilmember Martin-Milius
  • Councilmember Davis
  • Councilmember(elect) Hendricks
  • Councilmember Larsson

That’s about it.


01/07/2014 Council Preview – Changing of the Guard — 9 Comments