City Council's Surprise Vote Was Legal, City Attorney Says

Was public input unlikely to change the outcome?

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City Council's late-night, surprise vote on the mayor's Boulevard development proposal may scream of closed government, but City Attorney Allen Jackson says that any public objection probably wouldn't have changed the outcome.

Allen also says that he “has no concerns about the lawfulness” of the unadvertised vote.

For a recap, minutes before 11 p.m., Council squeezed in a 5-4 vote to approve a resolution that determines the shape that development will take on the roughly 60 acres of city-owned real estate on North Boulevard. This was after the agenda for last night’s meeting indicated that the item would be continued to Jan 11.

But during an afternoon meeting, a majority of Council members said that they planned to take a vote on the issue that night. Another change came during the regular meeting, when Council decided to amend the measure. But it continued as originally scheduled.

The shenanigans happened when Councilwoman Kathy Graziano moved to take the final vote on the measure instead of merely passing the amendments to it. With most people likely in bed at the late hour, there was nary a peep at the so-called public hearing.

Although Council is meant to represent the public, Jackson says, any dissent wouldn’t have been likely to stop that train. And that would have been the case even if there were more than crickets and a few stragglers left in the room to voice an objection.

“The Council seemed to have an idea of what direction it wanted to go, and I say that in the sense that a majority of members had an idea of what direction they wanted to go,” Jackson says. “So, I don’t think that if someone raised an objection it wouldn't have done anything. But the time for doing that has passed.”

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