City council watchers will continue to be able to find records of which councillors made motions during meetings, after a staff proposal to remove the names was narrowly defeated at the City of Grand Forks council on Monday night.
Council was considering a proposal from staff to remove reference to which councillors made and seconded motions from the official council minutes.
Currently, names are recorded when a councillor makes a motion, when that motion is seconded by another councillor (a step necessary in order to have discussion on the motion), as well as the votes against the motion.
The change in policy was originally presented for consideration at the Oct. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting. Deputy Corporate Officer Daniel Drexler said at the time that it would save staff time during the already-difficult minute taking process, as well as potentially protect councillors from any retaliation based on motions they make or second.
In larger centres, Drexler said, there have been issues with harassment by members of the public towards councillors that make or second controversial motions. Removing the names could be a matter of safety, he said.
Other municipalities have also omitted the names, Drexler said, including Castlegar. Discussion of the policy also noted that once a motion is based, it becomes a motion of council regardless of who made the motion. The names of councillors voting against would continue to be recorded, he noted.
At Monday night’s meeting when the motion to remove the names was being considered, opinion on the issue was divided.
Couns. Bev Tripp, Julia Butler and Colleen Ross were all vocally against the motion and wanted to continue to include the names in the minutes; Couns. Chris Hammett, Neil Krog and Christine Thompson supported the staff recommendation to remove the names.
“In the newest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order it is still a recommendation, it is best practice,” Butler said. “If a person makes a motion they should take responsibly for that and if they do not want to, maybe they shouldn’t make the motion.”
In response, other councillors spoke out against “politicizing” issues.
“We are not here to campaign for an election, we are here to make good decisions. The community does not need to know who made the motion, they need to know the outcome,” Hammett said, noting that recordings of the meeting are available online also for anyone interested in seeing which councillor made a motion.
Krog spoke in favour of the motion because of the “blatant political grandstanding” he has seen.
“I have sat on council and regional districts. I have seen blatant political grandstanding, personal agendas and political games all played with first and second. Yes we are individuals, but now we are a team and you have the results right there,” Krog said.
Ross said that she valued having her name on the motions because motions reflect the values that got councillors elected
“The beauty of municipal politics is that we are non-partisan, we have a clear vision of who we are, and people vote for us based on our values,” Ross said. “Our values are reflected in the motions we bring forward. Whether I bring them forward or second them, it should be out there.”
The motion to exclude names from the council minutes failed, with Tripp, Butler, Ross and mayor Frank Konrad voting against and Hammett, Thompson and Krog voting in favour. Council minutes will continue to note which councillors made a motion, which councillor seconded the motion, and which councillors voted against that motion.