Compromise would solve board’s notification issue

By Mike Anthony

A majority of Sunset Hills aldermen claim a lack of notification by Mayor Bill Nolan led them to propose an ordinance that would require the mayor to obtain aldermanic approval to establish special committees.

Assuming that’s the real reason — and that’s one heck of an assumption — we believe such an ordinance is unnecessary given the events that transpired at last week’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

It’s no secret that Nolan is opposed to the proposed ordinance, but at the Feb. 28 meeting, letters were read from four former mayors also opposing the proposed ordinance. Several residents — including people who served on special committees established by Nolan — also voiced their objections to the measure.

In the minority were less than a handful of residents who support the proposed ordinance.

Opponents of the proposal contend the measure would encroach on the mayor’s executive authority and curtail citizen involvement on special committees.

A majority of the Board of Aldermen support the proposed ordinance authored by Ward 2 Alderman Scott Haggerty. Proponents of the measure, including Ward 4 Alderman Claudia Svoboda, contend the proposal is designed to “help the community.”

It also was interesting to see some of the venom proponents directed toward those who oppose the proposal.

Some aldermen said they had learned of the establishment of some of Nolan’s committees through the city newsletter or local press. Nolan apologized and said he would inform the board in the future when establishing a special committee.

“… I have never received a phone call from a member of this board recommending that I do that (notify aldermen) and let me say that in all humility, I apologize …,” he said.

Ward 3 Alderman Stephen Webb proposed a compromise amendment that would require the mayor to provide advance notice to the Board of Aldermen when establishing a special advisory committee.

“… It satisfies what I understood to be the biggest concern in terms of communication …,” Webb said.

If the real issue is indeed one of notification — and that’s a big if — then aldermen have no choice but to adopt the compromise crafted by Webb.

We’ll let you know what happens when the board considers the second reading of the proposal when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.