Everett council considers having only night meetings

EVERETT — Venture into a daytime City Council meeting, and you’re bound to find an open seat.

Most council meetings take place on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. The exception is the fourth Wednesday of the month, when they start at lunchtime, 12:30 p.m.

To boost participation, Council President Jeff Moore wants to move all meetings to nights. The goal is to benefit the public as well as council members, who must work around schedules in their day jobs.

“Over the past year, as president, I have noticed that at our day meetings we have fairly low attendance,” Moore said during Wednesday’s afternoon meeting. “I know that through informal and scattered conservations with my colleagues, that there is enough interest in moving forward with moving our fourth meeting to a night meeting.”

As Moore spoke, the audience numbered about 15 — most of them city staff.

The council plans to discuss the potential change at its next meeting, scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. If there’s general agreement, they’ll prepare to take a formal vote Feb. 5.

Over the past few decades, meetings have migrated often to different time slots.

The current schedule began four years ago when council members voted 7-0 for the change.

That decision came shortly after the subject of meeting times in Everett caused a flap over government transparency.

In January 2010, two councilmen, Ron Gipson and the since-retired Arlan Hatloe, surprised the public and some of their colleagues by introducing a resolution to move three meetings a month to mornings, with just one nightly meeting each month.

The resolution wasn’t on the council’s official agenda, though city staff had started drafting it at least three weeks earlier. It was narrowly approved. People wrote letters and e-mails complaining that the decision curtailed public access.

The controversy prompted the council to convene an open government committee and formalize its procedures to avoid future surprises.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Councilman Scott Murphy asked city staff to provide attendance figures for the public and council members, if they’re available, comparing day and night meetings.

Staffing costs also are likely to come up during next week’s discussion. Most staff who now attend meetings are in management or other positions considered overtime-exempt, so they earn comp time instead of overtime, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said. Overtime-eligible employees sometimes assist with presentations and with specific topics.

Gail Chism, a regular attendee at council since the 1970s, supports the current schedule with day and night meetings.

“I think they should keep one during the day,” Chism said. “There are all sorts of people who work different shifts and I think that having at least one daytime meeting along with nights gives people a better opportunity to participate in the process.”

Day meetings also benefit the elderly, who might be reluctant to go out at night, she said.

People have been able to watch the meetings live or archived online since 2009.

Separately, a venue change is in the works for the Everett Planning Commission. Those meetings are set to move to City Council Chambers starting Feb. 4 so they can be live-streamed and archived online. The commission has been meeting in the Wall Street Building, where the city lacks access to the same technology.

The Planning Commission meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A worker disassembles a fluidized bed incinerator at the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Edmonds, $26M goes to a cleaner way to get rid of poop

The city will reduce its wastewater carbon footprint by dumping an incinerator and using new technology.

The Voting Commissioners of the Washington State Redistricting Commission released draft Legislative District maps Tuesday. (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
Early maps of legislative districts endanger some incumbents

Under one redistricting proposal, Mill Creek joins Everett. Under another, Monroe joins Wenatchee.

Tuesday's career fair will be at Everett Community College, which incidentally is also one of the participants. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Snohomish County Career Fair set for Tuesday at EvCC

Job seekers can connect with more than 40 employers at this year’s annual event.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Granite Falls altercation: Dog killed, man shot in head

A 20-year-old man allegedly shot an intruder, 54, who threatened two people and killed their dog.

Man found dead in Mountlake Terrace homeless camp identified

Oscar Banos Mejia, 40, was discovered in the bushes along the Interurban Trail on Friday afternoon.

Police respond to a crash in which Isaiah Funden, 24, of Marysville, died after his motorcycle collided with a car Monday morning on the Snohomish River Bridge. (Everett Police Department)
Motorcyclist who died in Everett bridge crash identified

The Marysville man, 24, was involved in a collision with a car and ejected into the Snohomish River.

Callie Childers 20210921
Car of slain Marysville woman was set on fire

Her body was found along a remote stretch of U.S. 2, east of Stevens Pass. Her car was found near Snohomish.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

Most Read