Remove the supermajority rule on Council?

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Most ordinances require a simple majority to pass the Council. However, as we saw with the vote on the Edgewater renovation project, overturning the finding of some committees requires a super-majority of 14 out of 20 (more than 2/3). Joe Tarr writes on Ald. Paul Skidmore’s hopes to change that rule, so that the finding of all city commissions will be advisory, and all decisions will ultimately be up to the Council (on a simple majority basis).

“We should treat this the same way we treat all committees and boards. They’re advisory to us. And we make the decision,” says Skidmore. “I don’t think the Landmarks Commission should have veto power over the council.”

City Attorney Michael May says a number of actions require a two-thirds majority vote on the council, including one regarding decisions by the Plan Commission concerning conditional-use permits. And state law requires that a supermajority is needed to overturn some zoning decisions.

Not everybody thinks undercutting the power of city commissions is a smart move.

“Making it easy for council to willy-nilly overrule things devalues the work of the commissions and makes it more likely we’ll be less efficient,” says Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.

Rhodes-Conway’s opinion is shared by Mike Verveer, who told me before the first vote that he believes the authority of the experts on the Landmarks Committee is there for a good reason. It will be interesting to see what the mayor says about this idea.

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