Bolton Proposes City Manager and Attorney to “Evaluate” and “Reject” the Commission’s Agenda Items Prior to Meetings

By Agrippina Fadel

Some Tamarac commission members do not want to decide what needs to be discussed on the dais and what should be left out of the city’s business.

At the June 8 meeting, Commissioner Marlon Bolton suggested an item that would empower the city manager and attorney to evaluate discussion items before they come before the commission and reject items with cause.

Bolton said some items his colleagues suggested in the past were “just terrible” and should not have been discussed by the commission. It was unclear whether he was referring to Commissioner Elvin Villalobos’ concerns over Bolton’s close connection to Tamarac Post and the fake news articles sent out to residents.

Bolton also said some items he proposed in the past were, according to the residents’ opinion, “meant to embarrass city staff.

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“I went home, thought about it, and didn’t bring up my items again,” he said.

The solution Bolton came up with is to give the power to decide what goes on the meetings agendas to the city manager and city attorney.

“Let’s hold them accountable. When any of us bring an item with no jurisdictional authority, it stops with them. Try that for six months, see if it works,” he suggested.

….I find it a little laughable that now all of a sudden we are going to defer our authority to the city manager and city attorney, without any real parameters and possible discrepancy on what items should be allowed.” —Mayor Michelle  Gomez.

Commissioner Debra Placko agreed, saying she wants to believe that when she comes to the staff with “some crazy idea,” they would say, “Are you sure you want to do this? Have you thought about the consequences of this? What is your objective?”

“I would rely on both of you to stir me in a direction that I need to be,” she said to the city manager and attorney. “We have to get a grip and stop the nonsense, and you two may have to be the adults in the room and ensure we are not doing something that would make the commission look bad.”

Placko said while she understands that the commission has the right to put anything they want on the agenda, she trusts the staff’s discretion to decide what should be brought to the commission meeting and what shouldn’t.

City Attorney John Herin said the staff talks to commissioners about their items, but “we can lead the horse to the water, but we can’t make the horse drink.” He suggested the staff can look into the current rules and procedures and, instead of a policy interpretation, develop a code change that will allow for broader control of the agenda.

Mayor Michele Gomez reminded her colleagues that the commission’s job is to set policy. “Therefore, I find it a little laughable that now all of a sudden we are going to defer our authority to the city manager and city attorney, without any real parameters and possible discrepancy on what items should be allowed,” she said.

She recommended modifying the ordinance and discussing the items during the workshops, so the ultimate decision about what goes on the agenda and what doesn’t is determined by the commission members, not the city staff.

“Let’s try that before we do another thing without any teeth or direction that causes more issues, and we as a commission continue to be laughable because we don’t seem to control ourselves despite the numerous times we say we will behave,” Gomez added.

Bolton said he doesn’t want to discuss the controversial items during the workshops, calling it a “waste of time and taxpayers’ money.” Placko agreed with him. “I would like to think we can have confidence in our city manager and city attorney to guide us in the right direction,” she said.

Herin and Gunn then suggested the city takes time to look into the matter and, while they work, asked the commission members not to offer any items for discussion in the next two meetings before the summer hiatus.

At that point, Bolton said he was withdrawing his item, ultimately ending the discussion to his colleagues’ delight. The meeting lasted over six hours, and Bolton’s item was last on the agenda.

It is unclear if he will try to bring the item back at a future meeting.

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Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel
Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.

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