By Jack Mayne
The regular Kent City Council meeting on Tuesday night (Sept. 17) was held in cramped temporary quarters requiring the members to sit closely together on a small stage, while it dumped it’s long-used committee system and replaced those with a single all-Councilmember committee of the whole.
The new system will soon have upgraded quarters. Mayor Dana Ralph said the regular Council chamber has been used for many years or, as Ralph said, the room “is older than most of us in this room.”
The temporary quarters will be short-lived, she said. “It will be a much better room for us” and apparently also for the public viewing the meetings at City Hall. The chambers are being renovated and updated, with new electronic gear installed and “will be a much better room” for Council meetings as well as larger general meetings.
Just one Kent Council committee
The Council on Tuesday night eliminated all five of its long-time standing committees and replaced them with a ”Committee of the Whole” structure on which every member would serve. The five standing committees eliminated were:
- Public Works
- Public Safety
- Parks and Human Services
- Economic and Community Development
The new single committee of the whole will include all the councilmembers.
Beginning with the Oct. 8 meeting, the new Council-wide committee of the whole will meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 4 p.m. in the soon-to-be-completed, newly renovated Council chamber. Council workshops and meetings, which are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, are not affected, the Council decided.
Also, future standing committee meetings have been canceled.
The new system is intended improve the flow of information between the elected executive mayor and seven elected members.
Proclamations, other business
The Council proclaimed the week of Sept. 13 as Welcoming Week. The proclamation said, “let us come together to build communities where every resident can contribute at his or her best – let us come together to create more prosperous communities and to reaffirm that Washington State and the city of Kent still stand as beacons of freedom, equity and opportunity.”
It also proclaimed the period as diaper awareness week, which encourages “all citizens to donate generously to diaper banks, diaper drives, and those organizations that distribute diapers to families in need to help alleviate diaper need in Kent.”
Mayor Ralph said an issue over businesses being able to lock their doors has been clarified. The issue for one business was people being able to have easy access out of a business. The mayor said front doors can be locked but there must be a viable exit for all businesses in case of fire or other emergency.
The Council also held brief hearings of potential adjustments of the city budget and capital improvement plans. Some revisions are expected later, the members were told, and public comment will be taken when the budget and improvement plans are fully ready in October.
A resident complained that trash around homeless camps in Mill Creek Canyon near Reiten Road and Titus Street has increased even though there are fewer people in the camps.
This will result in less citizen attendance. While I regularly attend the former Parks & Human Services Committee meetings, why would I want to sit in a longer meeting in which the majority of time will not be about our city parks. The same most likely be said for those who regularly attend meetings of other type of committees; why would they sit in a long meeting when the majority of the time will not be about what they are there for? Maybe less citizen attendance is the goal.