The first meeting of a new City Council in Lynchburg has three primary functions. The first, elect the President of Council, or otherwise known as the Mayor; second, elect the Vice-President of Council, otherwise known as the Vice-Mayor; and, third, to adopt Council's Rules of Procedure.
I would like to take this moment to discuss the third item from our agenda at our first meeting.
Recently, the Rules of Council have been put in the eye of the public due to a stipulation in those rules that mandates 12 hours notice for calling an emergency meeting. There was concern that a meeting from a few weeks ago was not legal due to the manner in which it was called - the Rules were voted to be suspended and thus the 12 hour notice for a special meeting was nullified. This creates a concern among some members of Council, including myself.
Now, this changed; 12 hour notice is not required, rather it is a guideline. We are told these meetings, if a 12 hour notice is not feasible, members of Council, and by association the public, will be given notice "reasonable under the circumstances" and Council will vote to affirm if there is justification for calling said special meeting.
In short, I disagree with this amendment to our Rules for the simple reason it does not give enough time for the public, i.e., the voters and citizens of Lynchburg (our bosses) to view the meeting agenda and provide commentary to Council Members. There should be some understanding between Council and the public of what timeline we will have set in stone for having special or emergency meetings. We as legislators and policy makers need to do whatever we can to allow for the public to contact their representatives on Council and offer insight. I would argue this amendment limits this engagement. Unfortunately, the majority of Lynchburg City Council thought otherwise.
While Councilman Helgeson's motion to maintain the current language in the Rules failed, I am proud to have supported it.
I will always advocate for the community to have every ability and opportunity to engage with Council.