It is always good to hear from Richard Grubb on civic matters (Redmond Reporter letters, Dec. 8). In several instances, the councils that Richard sat on were more productive and dealt with more controversial elements than are before us today. Richard’s criticism of 7-0 votes has validity with a couple of caveats. First, the challenging discourse Richard praises does come in council study sessions and committee meetings. The study sessions are broadcast live (second, fourth and fifth Tuesdays) while committee meetings are recorded and open to the public (4:30 p.m. each first through fourth Tuesday). It is considered “poor form” to question another council member in these meetings, and that surrenders function to form and should be changed. Richard was always an exemplar of civil disagreement that has been lost over time.
Second, we have a mandatory binary voting system on council. It is either yes or no and everybody must vote. If you have misgivings, you have to decide if they are enough to vote against an entire resolution. Council members will use short speeches to express their views, but typically these are long on self-praise and short on substance. One improvement is to allow abstentions. Congress and our state Legislature allow abstentions. We allow abstentions in our primary and elections (you don’t have to vote in every race). A majority of those present (usually four votes) would still be needed for passage. These two changes will go a long way to overcome the concerns Grubb has stated so well.