City Council met for it’s second regular session for January. The agenda included a special presentation from the Better Bus Coalition as well as two ordinances for consideration:
- Jake Sweeney Place Rehabilitation Project
- Updating the method for electing City Council officers
Better Bus Coalition
Several members of the Better Bus Coalition attended the council meeting to provide a presentation on their work and proposal to transform the current approach to bus transit in Greater Cincinnati from its downtown-centric model to one with more distributed transit centers.
I would encourage you to take a few minutes to read through the plan they constructed, it is a great example of how publicly available data can be used to come up with innovative approaches to public issues.
I support a more accessible regional approach that opens up public transit between more communities. If this type of approach moves forward I would be an advocate for updates to the City Master Planning to incorporate public works updates to support the changes (sidewalks, accessible ramps, shelters, bike lanes, bike parking, etc.).
Jake Sweeney Place Rehabilitation
This ordinance authorizes funds for the contract to do the street work around Jake Sweeney. The work was discussed at past meetings prior to the bid open as well as when the bid was opened. I understand this are continues to have issues affecting the past concrete work and needs to be addressed as soon as practical. The best bid contractor has worked with the city in the past with good results. The ordinance passed with a 7-0 vote.
Council Elected Officer Process
This ordinance wold update the process City Council elects its officers (President and Vice President) from its own body. The current charter specifies in a contested election the decision should be made by secret ballot. This method predates current sunshine and open meeting requirements and (frankly in my opinion) does not reflect current best practices for public meetings. The most recent officer elections occurred in December when the new City Council was sworn in – at that time the officers were elected by acclimation as there was only a single nominee for each position and were confirmed unanimously. The proposed language was discussed and two primary points were raised:
- The proposed change to simply remove the requirement for secret ballot be stricken may not be specific enough to describe the Councils direction that secret ballots be avoided explicitly (rater than just not required)
- The reasons this was being proposed as an emergency change
At the meeting the ordinance was tabled as a first reading with proposed updates to be presented next session as well as to allow increased awareness of the changes.
As I have said many times I fully support open meetings and government transparency. I am fine with simply striking the secret ballot language or even explicitly forbidding secret ballots except where required by law (if there were to be some sort of law in the future). I am still considering if this should maintain the emergency clause (should that be presented again).