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F.C. Council Rejects Language to Permit Simple Majority Votes for Last-Minute Items

Language added in unexpectedly, at least for some Falls Church City Council members, to a draft set of new “Rules of Procedure” that would have required only a simple majority vote to approve items introduced in the last minute to a Council meeting was rejected last night. Council members Robin Gardner, Ron Peppe and Johannah Barry opposed the proposal among only five members present at tonight’s regular business meeting.

“When we left last week’s work session on this subject, I thought it was agreed that would not be in there,” Gardner, who was replaced as mayor on July 1 by Nader Baroukh, said.

She objected that the language would allow a measure to be introduced to the Council and voted on in the same meeting, without any of the standard vetting at a work session or by City staff, or with the benefit of thought-through citizen input. Peppe agreed, saying the goal should be to “have no surprises” at Council meetings, and when Barry chimed in, saying that as a brand-new Council member, she deferred to Gardner’s judgment, the line was dropped out of the draft. Barry said that while opposition to it may “assume mischief,” that “mischief” is always a possibility.

The language reverted to the original, which requires not a simple majority, but a super-majority for any item added to an agenda at the last minute to be approved. Vice Mayor David Snyder and Councilman Lawrence Webb were not present at tonight’s meeting.