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City council cancels business meeting

The Bremerton City Council’s regular business meeting this week was pushed back a day and then canceled altogether.

Due to the Independence Day holiday on Wednesday, the meeting was bumped to Thursday. Council President Jim McDonald then decided to cancel the meeting due to a lack of action items.

“If it wasn’t for the holiday, we probably would have held a meeting,” said Legislative Assistant Lori Smith. “There just wouldn’t have been any action items. So, the president made a decision to cancel.”

According to state law, “… If at any time any regular meeting falls on a holiday, such regular meeting shall be held on the next business day…”  Smith noted, though, that the city charter only requires that the, “Council shall meet regularly, at least once a month, at such times and locations as designated by the Council.”

“They choose to meet four times a month and have two study sessions and then vote on business items at the next meeting,” Smith said.

It’s during those every-other-week business meetings, that members of the public get a chance to testify publicly before the council.

McDonald was out of town this week, but City Council Vice President Greg Wheeler said that the decision to cancel the meeting was the right thing to do.

“If we had any sort of pressing issue at all, I would have talked to Jim about it,” Wheeler said. “But since we didn’t, he made the call and I didn’t bring any pressing issues forward, so I’m fine with it.”

Wheeler also said that canceling one of two of this month’s meetings that allow for public comment wasn’t a big concern.

“It wasn’t,” he said. “Only because there was no issue on our agenda as far as public input on anything. The public still has the freedom to ask a question at any time. All of us have an open-door policy and you can call us and email us at any time. Our doors are always open for items not on the agenda. So, we never stop working.”

The city council’s most recent meeting cancellation fell on a fifth Tuesday on May 30. That session was also cancelled “due to a lack of items.” More recently, the council’s June 20 business meeting very nearly was canceled due to a lack of a quorum. Three councilors were at an annual Association of Washington Cities conference in Vancouver and a fourth council member was out of town on business. In addition, Smith said that Councilwoman Carol Arends wasn’t feeling well.

“I asked Councilwoman Arends if it would be easier if I gave her a ride and she said it would. So, I went and picked her up and helped her. She would have come on her own, and had driven earlier in the day, but I just wanted to help her out and make sure we had a quorum.”

Smith said that Councilwoman Leslie Daugs also volunteered to drive back from Vancouver if necessary.

Smith said that between the canceled study session May 30, a near miss on the June 20 quorum and this week’s July 5 cancellation, the council’s schedule has been unusual.

“It’s really rare to cancel a meeting and then all of the sudden there’s couple here almost back-to-back in a row,” Smith said.

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