ALTERED ALLIANCES: A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE NEW COUNCIL

Where’s the power on the new City Council? After the surprise election of independent councilman Don Hicks as mayor pro tern, it’s anybody’s guess. But the early line from City Hall goes something like this:

1)Mayor Folsom’s influenceover the body will diminish considerably. The mayor used to beable to summon a six-vote majority whenever he really needed it. Now he can count on threevotes – maybe. New council-men Sid Stahl and Ed Haggar will likely line up with Folsomon most issues, though both areknown to be more independentthan previous Folsom allies like Bill Blackburn.

2) The clout of independentslike Hicks and Steve Bartlettwill increase dramatically. Indeed, some insiders say the twohave already formed a coalitionwith new council members Rol-an Tucker and Lee Simpson.On a split council, four votesisn’t a bad start. Word is thecoalition will most likely courtthe minority bloc of Elsie FayHeggins, Richard Medrano,and Fred Blair to put together amajority on the big issues.

3) In general, this power shiftis expected to make the councilmore attuned to the so-called A”homeowner” lobby, and less attentive to developers. Rubber stamp zoning votes favorable to developers will become a thing of the past; so will the previous council’s custom of not airing dirty laundry in public. As Councilman Bartlett says, “It’s going to make meetings about twice as long. Everything will be hashed out in public.”

4) Look for the first big fight on the new panel to be over a new master plan for the city, a concept that has been shelved for several years because of developer pressure. Most observers feel the votes are already there on the new council to pass a new plan, which would include massive modification of current zoning laws.

Newsletter

Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.

Comments