E-DEMOCRACY | Procedure and leadership on the new Minneapolis city council

From: Susan Goldberg Date: 9:31am, Jan 07

Thumbs down to Alondra Cano for a needless motion to open the floor to public commentary at Monday's city council meeting. The city council never has public testimony at full council meetings. To do this would need a 2/3 vote, or 9 members. If Cano had asked around before making that silly motion, she would have learned that the votes to pass it were not there. It only takes 5 votes to kill a motion that requires 2/3. Whoever jacked up that noisy protest in the hall had their expectations raised needlessly and then needlessly raised the expectations of the sheeple.

Thumbs up to Abdi Warsame for voting against Cano's motion. He didn't need to do that. The motion was already DOA before the vote came around to him. He needlessly antagonized "progressive" constituents who were present and ready to seize the floor.

From: Jim Mork Date: 10:15am, Jan 07

Wow, just in office and already she should know everything about protocol. Congratulations to her for asserting herself. Her constituents are going to need that kind of backbone when the wheeler dealers come around trying to slant public policy in the interest of the wealthy. I hope all the new members are assertive. None of this "defer to the experienced" stuff. The voters did NOT vote for "business as usual". And we can count on some partisans to try to undo the election in many ways. It may not be a frontal attack on issues. It could be throwing darts on secondary issues. Let's all give our full support to the new regime so that we don't get a replay of the old one that lost its reforming spirit.

From: Tony Hill Date: 10:41am, Jan 07

There's a point to be learned here about kingmakers. There really aren't kingmakers. But successful politicians get power ascribed to them because they know how to count votes. They might not be moving ANY votes; they simply don't propose anything publicly until they have the votes to get it passed. Pols who are really good at this even take on an aura of dominance.

OP... you used the word needlessly needlessly. Repetition bothers me in print and gets me severely irritated when done orally.

Tony "I'll pistol-whip the next guy that says 'shenanigans'" Hill

From: Chuck Turchick Date: 2:51pm, Jan 07

Every day the U.S. Senate was in session from 1967 to 1986, Senator William Proxmire made a speech -- 3,211 of them -- urging ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Finally, it was ratified.

Sometimes elected officials make motions to make a point, even if the votes aren't there.

Chuck Turchick
Phillips

From: Pat Byrne Date: 3:55pm, Jan 07

And sometimes as an educational process.

From: Julie Sabo Date: 4:06pm, Jan 07

Give our new officials the benefit of learning, it can be messy and include many mistakes, just like our democracy. Whether one agrees with them or not, it's best they learn to govern, even if it is the hard way.

From: Alan Muller Date: 4:36pm, Jan 07

Ms. Cano gets elected to a notoriously corrupt and special-interest-serving Council. She starts out by trying to create an opportunity for the people who elected her to be heard. (Just exactly what she should be doing!) Instead of being thanked, she's (mostly) being patronized and ridiculed on this list. Nauseating. Viva Alondra Cano!

am

From: Ron Leurquin Date: 5:01pm, Jan 07

Sounds like Ms. cano is not going to be a part of the SSDD crowd thats run CC for far too long lately. Yes, maybe she should have known better, or maybe she was trying to make a point; but maybe she was doing what she thought was the right thing to do regardless of how it had been done in the past. Good for her at this point.

Lets not pass judgement on her skills or how whe plans to perform on what happens the first few days.

Yes, there is a bit of a lerning curve in any new position. But the lurning curve should be on proceedure, not on how its been done in the past. Tradtion is fine as long as it still serves a purpose.

I'll wait to see what kind of issues she takes a stand on and wht her voting record becomes as she starts to vote on things before I pass judgement on her.

As for some of the old guard left yet, well, perhaps not enough of the old guard was removed. I wont mention her name for fear of retribution.

Ron Leurquin
Richfield

From: Jim McGuire Date: 5:02pm, Jan 07

I don't have a strong opinion here, but sometimes elected officials need to make motions like this even if they know they're going to lose. Why? So that there's a record showing who voted against it.

Sometimes not pushing a motion just because you know it's going to fail is a disservice.

From: Gayle Bonneville Date: 5:38pm, Jan 07

Exactly. Failure to use the bully pulpit as an elected official is just failure. These folks were not elected to play it safe or be bureaucrats -- they were elected to be leaders. I applaud Ms. Cano for showing leadership right out of the shoot and suggesting that a mere 15 minutes carved out of the agenda to hear from the public on this historic occasion was in order. I suspect she knew very well she didn't have 2/3 votes but wanted to demonstrate that these are times for change. Let's hope a new breeze is going to blow through city hall, since she did get seven (a simple majority) of her colleagues to vote in favor of her motion -- six of the seven newcomers plus Gordon. Thank you, CMs Frey, Yang, Gordon, Bender, Andrew Johnson, Palmisano and Cano.

This will be an exciting city council to keep an eye on. We need a CouncilWatch group along the lines of what ParkWatch was/is.

Interesting that Barbara Johnson, in speaking against the motion, suggested council members could have their own publicly announced ward meetings where they listen to constituents' priorities for the city are before the council's goals/priority setting "exercise." I have never heard of this exercise she said they do every four years, but I believe she implied it was open to the public/public comment??? Glidden, saying she would vote against the Cano motion, agreed, saying she looks forward to hearing public comments in another setting.

So let's see all 13 council members step up and do so. If you hear of any such meetings or know when the council "exercise" is scheduled, please post here.

From: Lara Norkus-Crampton RN Date: 6:04pm, Jan 07

CM Cano may not have been procedurally (is that a word?) correct but I think she was trying to acknowledge a significant shift in City Hall with this election and the role of an energized electorate. (Setting decorum aside, she probably also wanted to give kudos to those who were inspired enough to show up on a dangerously frigid day to witness and participate in the event.)

It seems to me that this was a values driven campaign season. Especially the newly elected Council Members heard that message loud and clear. Even the reconfiguration of some of the standing committees appear to reflect a more Values Forward approach. http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/news/WCMS1P-118827

The Health, Environment & Community Engagement Committee and the Public Safety, Civil Rights & Emergency Management Committee, are two examples. To me this illustrates a much less compartmentalized approach to policy making and could be a good thing.

The challenge for this City Council, as with all elected bodies, will be to figure out quantifiable and measurable goals that reflect the values they ran on, and the nuts and bolt policies to achieve them. Hopefully the public will stay engaged to help our city representatives forge a way forward. There are many issues in our wonderful city that need our attention!

From: Connie Sullivan Date: 7:35pm, Jan 07

Sometimes, when there's a significant number of new members of a governing body like our 2014 City Council, the most fun of the whole ensuing four years occurs in the first few months of their term.

That's when the neophytes, who are still kind of wearing their campaign hats and badges that speak to their values and goals, try to do something straightforward and clear, maybe even democratically open, and then, when some arcane tradition or arbitrary power group blocks them, end up saying "You're kidding me! We can't do that here?"

Those moments are the spaces where the cracks in the system can be seen. Where the dominant power has not yet gotten control of the children who are for the first time at "the grownups' table," where we can see direct clashes between the establishment and people just elected who came to Council with new ideas and new ways of doing things. These can be exciting moments. But they are always instructive. And, a bit sad, because they will stop happening.

Connie Sullivan
Como, in East Minneapolis

E-Democracy forum posts are republished under license by Creative Commons with Attribution. See entire discussion thread here.

  • Good for Alondra Cano. If we are going to discuss procedure then what Cano did was not technically wrong, as in ignoring the rules and, for instance, allowing the Vikings to steal taxpayers' money. The City Council failed to protect their constituents. Those votes were worked out privately as to who would look good and who would be losing office in the last election. So I salute Alondra Cano and those who stood with her. Up with democracy for the sake of the whole planet. - by Janet Nye on Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:30pm
  • Shout out to CM Alondra Cano. You can learn procedure but authenticity and conviction is about the heart. - by Karen Monahan on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 8:39pm
  • There's only one rule in politics: arithmetic. You have to know how to count. Cano is being faulted for not being able to count up to 9 on a motion to suspend the rules, but she was able to make a speech in support of the demonstrators, and, most important, she was able to get 7 votes for her motion. That's a majority. Enough to pass most legislation. If she can command 7 votes, then she is running the Council. No matter who is President, Vice President or Majority Leader. - by Ed Felien on Wed, 01/22/2014 - 9:57pm

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