Will Councilmember Vreeland do the honorable thing and resign at the February 27th city council meeting? More than one year delayed for doing this, we'll see.
Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 2/21/12. "Lack of a quorum stymies two city council hearings."
The unexpected absence of Councilmember Jim Vreeland caused the continuation of two items on the City Council agenda last Tuesday. City Council members must excuse themselves from voting on something if they live too close to it, have a business too close to it, or have any perceived conflict about it. In two public hearings brought before City Council last Tuesday, so many council members had a conflict, they had no choice but to continue the matters until the next meeting, Feb. 27.
The appeals challenging the Planning Commission's decision about the assisted living facility on Oddstad were to be heard Tuesday. Council was also expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the utility undergrounding along Palmetto Avenue. Mayor Pete De Jarnatt did not attend the meeting, but his absence was anticipated by city staff. DeJarnatt felt he had to excuse himself from voting on both public hearings that evening. For the Oddstad property, he said he had a perceived conflict because his mother lives adjacent to the property. For the hearing about Palmetto Avenue, he had to excuse himself because he lives too close to the area. Mayor Pro Tem Len Stone had to excuse himself from the Oddstad hearing because he has a business in the adjacent Park Mall. That left Councilmembers Mary Ann Nihart and Sue Digre the only ones able to vote on the matter. In the case of the public hearing about the Palmetto Avenue undergrounding, Nihart had to excuse herself because she lives near Palmetto Avenue.
In the case of the Planning Commission appeals, both sides had extensively planned for their experts and their supporters to attend the hearing. The continuation cost both sides a considerable amount of money and inconvenience. City staff did not anticipate Vreeland's absence and expected he would be able to vote on both of the issues.
Vreeland told the Tribune he has had medical issues over the past year and has recently been admitted to a hospital. He said he is planning on resigning his seat on City Council because of these ongoing medical issues. The city attorney is expected to present council members information about council's rules about attendance and when absences are excused or unexcused at Monday's meeting, said City Manager Steve Rhodes.City Council is expected to discuss the matter of Vreeland's repeated absences at the next council meeting. "This cannot go on," Mayor DeJarnatt said. "I don't know what our options are. He can't keep missing meetings. I'm very concerned about him. I hope he's OK, but the business of the city must go on. This is not permissible. I'm worried about him. It wasn't fair to have those projects not heard."
Posted by Kathy Meeh