LATHROP — The Lathrop City Council is about to get a refresher course in the rules and procedures that govern their positions.
On Monday night, City Clerk Mitzi Ortiz went through a presentation that outlined possible changes to the City Council Handbook of Rules and Procedures – changes that were suggested by the subcommittee established at the behest of the council to review the handbook.
But the matter won’t be official until the council meets again on Monday, June 20 – tabled after Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal requested that the council be given more time to go through the suggested changes with staff and determine whether anything else needs to be added.
Some of the suggested revisions include:
• Revising notification procedures for cancelled meetings
• Requiring a council vote to continue a meeting past 10:30 p.m. instead of instantly continuing all matters until the next meeting
• Clarifying prohibition of consumption of certain substances
The revisions, according to the report, are to update and clarify the handbook, and allow for council input for councilmember assignments. It also prohibits council interference in board, commission and committee actions.
Several questions that the council has to decide before the matter can be put to rest are whether to start the meetings earlier so that all of the agenda items can be addressed – something that hasn’t happened very often in the past few months – and whether closed sessions should be held before or after regularly scheduled meetings.
After councilman Omar Ornelas inquired about who would enforce the regulations once they were adopted, and Ortiz informed him that it was up to the council members to police themselves, Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely – speaking as a resident and not in his official position – voiced his displeasure in the fact that the council essentially gets to make up whatever guidelines they see fit.
“You’re pretty much sitting up there making your own rules,” Neely said. “I think that this is something that should be put off because there are a lot more important things to deal with right now. The budget is coming down the pipe and that’s a lot more important.”
City Attorney Salvador Navarrete, once pressed about whether he could police the council, said that he was there to mediate and provide counsel but to serve in a supervisory role as individual members of the council acted outside of a formal meeting.
But the topic did provide the opportunity for some in the community to talk about how they’d like to get involved with making sure that the actions of the council were on the up-and-up.
Resident Forrest Burke told the council that he’d like to have a copy of the handbook so that citizens in the community could in effect point out things that are recognized as going against the regulations that were in place – creating a system of checks and balances that would benefit the community as a whole.