VOL. 112 | NO. 240 | Thursday, December 31, 1998
By STACEY PETSCHAUER
City Council starts new year by revisiting the old
By STACEY PETSCHAUER
The Daily News
Memphis City Council will start the new year by reverting back to an old way of doing things.
Council committee meetings now will be held on the same day as regular Council meetings, rather than on off-Tuesdays as has been done for the past two years.
Council chairperson Joe Ford decided to change the committee meeting schedule to increase council member participation.
"I think that well have better attendance," he said. "Its hard on that off week trying to get everyone to come to a committee meeting."
The Council still will meet in the main chamber every other Tuesday for regular meetings.
Beginning Tuesday, members will arrive early for committee meetings on the same day, as was done in 1993, 94 and 95, Ford said.
Ford said he believes the new schedule also will be more convenient for the public.
"As the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee this year, I noticed when we heard a case, the people had to come back the next week. Some of them were controversial cases, where you have 50 people in the committee room who then have to go home and wait a whole week.
"Now, theyll just go straight from the committee meeting downstairs. It will save the individual who has a problem with a zoning matter from coming twice," Ford said.
Although all committees will meet on the same day as Council meetings, only Planning and Zoning Committee cases will go straight from committee to Council.
All others, such as parks, education, libraries and public works, will be held until the following Council meeting, Ford said.
Council member Jerome E. Rubin said he believes the change will be more efficient for business people and others who are involved in zoning issues.
"Particularly in planning and zoning, when business people have dollars and cents on the line, so to speak, our prompt resolution of issues relevant to that is important," Rubin said.
"Not to say that anybody elses business is not important, but I suppose it becomes especially important to them when there is money related to it."
As long as the new schedule is not problematic for the public, Rubin said he has no problems with the change.
But, he said one of the reasons the Council went to off-week timing in the first place was so members would have adequate time to hear cases in committee meetings before taking them to vote.
"But, thats not to say that issues cannot be adequately discussed and voted on the same day. I suppose its just a matter of preference," Rubin said.
The Council will allot the same amount of time for same-day committee meetings as it did off-week meetings, so there still will be adequate time for discussion, Ford said.
"If you look at it, its no different. Its the same times. Were just doing it all in one day," he said.
He said no item will come out of committee until it has been approved or disapproved, and controversial items can be held over for the next committee meeting, if necessary.
Controversial issues such as Mapco Park, for example, will not come out of committee until they have been adequately discussed, approved or disapproved, and are ready to go downstairs.
"But, a basic thing like a lady wanting to get a day care center, who already has approval from the Office of Planning and Development and the Land Use Control Board and its a sure thing. It passes committee and shes done," Ford said.
He said the Council will try the new schedule and see how things go.
"I think its going to be a successful year doing it this way," Ford said.
"If we get six months out of the way and it doesnt work, as chairman, Ill switch it. But I think that itll work out fine."