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Council should act to avoid Christmas Eve meeting conflict

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

The public likes to see elected officials working hard, putting in extra hours to serve their constituents.

But sometimes the requirements on those officials may go a little too far, and may not serve the best interests of the public. A case in point is the situation involving the Huntington City Council.

The City Charter requires the council to meet at 7:30 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of each month, except on days that are legal holidays. Unfortunately for council members and the public, the fourth Monday of this month is Christmas Eve, which is not a legal holiday under state code. City Attorney Scott McClure says there is no way around having the meeting on that day, or at that time, without violating the charter.

So that means that the policymakers for Huntington's city government will have to make room in their holiday planning to gather at City Hall, even though city workers have been given the day off by Mayor Kim Wolfe. That also means that the council will conduct the public's business at a time when very few -- if any -- members of the public will be paying attention. That's not a good result either.

This all suggests that city leaders should start now to advance a change to the City Charter that can provide some flexibility in situations such as this. The council could do that by approval of an ordinance, which should be the next step. Of course, if just one resident objects in writing, that means the proposed change will have to go before voters in a referendum. If that happens, the council should be prepared to schedule a vote on the issue during the next primary or general election, so as not to spend money on a special vote.

It will be six years before this situation comes up again, giving the council plenty of time to try to fix this.

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