meeting attendance

Roll Call Votes Would be Best, Meeting Attendance is a Start (editorial)

in Election News/Featured/Government and Politics/Opinion

Liberty Lake City Council meets bi-monthly to establish laws, policies, provide budget oversight, and get feedback from the community. Councilmembers may also attend additional workshops, training classes, and community events. They sacrifice time away from their families, friends, jobs, hobbies, and sleep to perform their legislative duties.

They are about to receive a much-deserved increase in their salary but isn’t nearly enough for the time and expertise. Their decisions impact 10,000 plus of their neighbors. As I shared in “Would you work for $8 per hour?”, their hourly worth outside of council is far greater than they are paid.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that councilmembers should not be held accountable and their legislative actions not more easily measured.

In my opinion, the most useful tool the City of Liberty Lake could provide is  roll call voting machines and a tally database. State and federal legislative bodies have their votes recorded. The public can review an issue to learn how individual representatives impact laws.

For the Liberty Lake City Council, meeting attendance is the only metric or performance indicator I could locate. It was something I put together by reviewing 41 meeting minutes.

I am not sure what an acceptable attendance percentage is for councilmembers and could not locate a number in the Mayor & Councilmember Handbook or Washington State law.

The closest thing to an attendance law is RCW 35A.12.060, which states:

“In addition a council position shall become vacant if the councilmember fails to attend three consecutive regular meetings of the council without being excused by the council.”  (https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=35A.12.060)

In my review of the meeting minutes, all of the absences were excused by the council. Reasons for the absences were not recorded.

It isn’t my place to judge what a worthy excuse is to miss a meeting, but it would be interesting to know if there are guidelines for those whose place it is to make that judgement.

Learning whether a councilmember’s meeting attendance is above or below average as compared to peers is one minor data point when deciding whether a candidate should get my vote for re-election.

Hopefully, the City of Liberty Lake will provide more tools before the next election cycle to improve accountability and transparency. My preferred remedy is roll call votes for all council votes.

What councilmember data would help you in deciding who to re-elect?


Here is how the percentages in the graphic above were calculated.

Meeting Attendance 2018_2019 - Sheet1

Green = present, Red = absent, Grey = not data found

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Brian is a Liberty Lake resident and entrepreneur. He and his wife own a web development firm and publish the Liberty Lake Gazette. When he is not working on websites and publishing news for Liberty Lake, Brian enjoys kayaking, disc golf, travel, and camping with his wife and daughter.

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