"Council members complain the council lacks resources to develop ambitious proposals from scratch, especially given Nickels' tight reins on city departments."
Well, this is true for Board members. They have minimal staff and speaking as someone who does research, it is time-consuming. You can Google one thing and write it up as gospel but that's not the way to make public policy. As to whether district staff are helpful; they can be but sometimes that's a matter of how much information they choose to give and if they are so inclined to give it.
"If we have an executive that does not follow the ordinances that the council passes, we have a breakdown in local government," Licata said last month, referring to Nickels' recent refusal to say whether he will implement night-life regulations that the mayor disliked. "We cannot have city a governed with a mayor that's not willing to cooperate."
Licata is mulling over ways to "attach penalties" whenever Nickels fails to implement council directives. Righting the balance also might require voter-approved changes to the city's governing charter, he said."Charlie has complained, in detail, how past superintendents have ignored Board policy. They have one huge stick to use with the superintendent but really, how often can you threaten him or her with being fired before it rings hollow? And would you want to in the spirit of cooperation? "Attach penalities", well that's a thought but I don't know how the Board would do it. Maybe not approve the budget the staff sets forth.
And this from the Mayor:
"Disagreements between his executive branch and the legislative branch reflect a healthy, democratic tension, Nickels said.
"There is a separation of powers, and I have a great deal respect for it, particularly having served 14 years as a (King) County Council member," Nickels said. "But there is a balance.
"What I will resist is the council micromanaging. And I think there's been a tendency to do that," said Nickels, who declined to provide examples."But, Mr. Mayor, is there are balance or is that only on paper? And ah, micromanaging, the favorite word of any who oppose the Board. But, if your policies were being ignored (or those of previous members), you might go that route as well.
So what else to think about:
"The council has a "secondary role" in legislation -- the job of refining it as appropriate, Councilwoman Jean Godden said in an interview last fall.
It's an unusual political perspective, as basic democratic principles usually assign the legislative branch the duty to write laws and the executive branch the responsibility to administer them."And the above paragraph says it in a nutshell. It may be the carrying out that's hard to bring to reality.
And what is the reality?
"The council can appropriate money for something -- they can't force the executive to spend it," Nickels said. Similarly, "the council can express its opinion ... until they express that with an ordinance, that's their advice."And even then, when the council dictates something as law, Nickels may direct his department not to enforce it. "
Has that happened here in SPS? You couldn't necessarily know for sure but given how many Board policies there are and how many are not carried out/ignored or unenforced, it may be true.