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Council OKs changes to norms and procedures

Posted: November 14, 2012 6:31 p.m.
Updated: November 14, 2012 6:31 p.m.

After some discussion, members of the Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved changes to their norms and procedures during their meeting this week.

Much of the discussion centered on whether council members should be allowed to show video presentations during meetings.

The issue stemmed from a meeting during which Councilman TimBen Boydston attempted to present a video without allowing his fellow council members to view it beforehand.

Under the revised norms and procedures presented at Tuesday night’s meeting, videos would have been limited to 10 minutes and would have to be distributed to all council members and made available publicly at least 24 hours before a council meeting.

But after a debate, the council voted unanimously to rewrite the provision to limit videos to five minutes and require them to be distributed to the council 24 hours ahead of a meeting.

During the discussion on the issue, City Attorney Joe Montes cautioned that council members commenting on an issue before a public meeting — including responses to shared videos — could be a violation of the Brown Act open meetings law.

Councilwoman Laurene Weste criticized the provision, calling it a “legal quagmire.”

“It’s dangerous territory to start having one-way dissemination of information,” Weste said.

Boydston said it is time to stop living in “last century” and argued there was no reason for his fellow members to be afraid of what a video might show.

“You don’t know what I’m going to say in the next five minutes, either,” Boydston pointed out.

Councilwoman Marsha McLean said she worried that allowing council members to show videos at meeting opened the door for them to mislead the public.

“Say whatever you want to say,” McLean said. “But I have a problem with sitting here and watching a video that may be detrimental, piecemealed or contrived.”

Mayor Frank Ferry rebuffed that point, saying it comes down to a matter of trust between council members.

“We just need to have that mutual respect that no one is looking to embarrass other council members,” Ferry said.

Other changes to the norms and procedures passed Tuesday night included replacing some of the words “shall” and “will” with “should” in response to criticism that the wording of the document was too restrictive.




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