Council Committee Proposal

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Jimmy Flannigan
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:44 am

Council Committee Proposal

Post by Jimmy Flannigan » Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:34 pm

During yesterday’s Council Work Session I believe we had a productive conversation regarding the long-term future of the committee structure and I have begun to incorporate some of the feedback into my proposal: fewer committees, with clearly-defined purposes, and that result in productive work. I am posting the current version of my proposal on the Council Message Board in the hopes that we can continue a productive dialogue without taking away from other work we are doing in work sessions. Please review and provide further input on the Council Message Board. Specifically, I would like to hear each of your thoughts on:
---- (1) the purpose of Council Committees;
---- (2) the size and make up of Council Committees; and
---- (3) the frequency of Council Committee meetings.
I will leave the method of nomination and appointment to a separate discussion. As feedback is posted I will work to incorporate it into the proposal. Furthermore, this concept is connected to proposed changes to Thursday meeting structure and the future of budget work sessions and other meetings. I hope to have this lead to a larger plan for all council meetings so that we have a clearer picture of our ongoing meeting commitments and their relevance to the public’s work.

**** Summary:
The purpose of each standing committee of Council is to consider and discuss long term issues and opportunities related to the Council’s strategic outcomes. Standing committee meetings will provide an opportunity for broad policy issues to be discussed, analyzed, and refined by Council Members and an opportunity to actively engage citizen leaders from City Boards and Commissions in a public meeting. Having members from our City Boards and Commissions serve on relevant standing committees of Council will help strengthen relationships between Council and our Commissions, offer greater strength to Commission public input, and will create an environment that fosters enriched in-depth policy discussions.

(A) Standing Committees of Council:
--- (1) Use the Council Strategic Outcomes to create six standing committees:
------ (a) Economic Opportunity and Affordability
------ (b) Mobility
------ (c) Safety
------ (d) Health
------ (e) Cultural and Learning Opportunities
------ (f) Trustworthy Government
--- (2) Trustworthy Government will serve as the charter-required Audit & Finance Committee
--- (3) Austin Energy would become a meeting during a recessed Regular City Council Meeting, similar to the Austin Housing Finance Corporation
--- (4) Each standing committee will have a Council approved set of Bylaws which will include:
------ (a) the purpose and duties of the committee;
------ (b) membership of the committee, including how many seats, which boards or commissions may have a seat and how the members are selected;
------ (c) officers and duties of officers;
------ (d) agendas, including posting rules; and
------ (e) meetings, including rules of conduct, quorum rules and schedule.

(B) Standing Committee Purpose:
--- (1) Discussion around long-term issues and opportunities related to its strategic outcome
--- (2) Determining and monitoring indicators related to its strategic outcome
--- (3) Review existing and future strategic plans relevant to its strategic outcome
--- (4) Synthesize public input taken at relevant commission meetings

(C) Standing Committee Composition:
--- (1) Each committee would include four members from the City Council
--- (2) Each Council Member would serve on at least two committees
--- (3) Each committee would select their own chair and vice-chair position
--- (4) Committees would include members from City Boards and Commissions that align with the primary strategic outcome. Each Commission would self-select it’s appointee to the committee (except where City Charter prohibits such members)

(D) Standing Committee Meetings:
--- (1) Committees would meet bi-monthly and only in the intervening weeks between formal council meetings (would require moving to bi-weekly council meetings). Other briefings and meetings (budget work sessions, department reviews) could also occur in those intervening weeks
--- (2) No committee discussion would be permitted on currently posted Council agenda items.
--- (3) Standing Committee Meetings would be broadcast, recorded and open to the public however no public testimony would be taken at committee meetings.
--- (4) No action would be taken at committees, including no recommendations to the full Council.

(E) Council Temporary Committee:
--- (1) A temporary committee may be created by resolution through a vote of the City Council.
--- (2) A temporary committee will have a limited purpose, connected to at least one strategic outcome, and will include a set duration.
--- (3) Each temporary committee will have a Council approved set of Bylaws which will include:
------ (a) the purpose and duties;
------ (b) process for determining membership;
------ (c) officers and duties of officers;
------ (d) agendas, including posting rules;
------ (e) meetings, including rules of conduct, quorum rules and schedule; and
------ (f) duration.
Jimmy Flannigan
Council Member, District 6

Greg Casar
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:20 pm

Re: Council Committee Proposal

Post by Greg Casar » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:07 pm


At a later date, I'd like to communicate at greater length my thoughts on the committee structure going forward. However, for now, I'd like to second a few of CM Flannigan's points from his post.

1) I support CM Flannigan's thesis that the purpose of standing committees should be to discuss longer-term issues and opportunities-- rather than take on short-term questions pending before the Council.
2) Once we've collectively decided on strategic outcomes and indicators, I think the committee work (just like the Council work) should focus on moving the needle on those indicators. However, I'm not sure that the committees need to align one-to-one with the strategic outcomes-- rather I think the substance of the committee work can focus on moving several indicators, potentially even across outcomes. Improving our transportation system through work in the Mobility committee, for example, has positive effects on economic opportunity, community health, mobility, etc.
3) I believe that setting up Bylaws/Charter for each committee is an important reform.

Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4