Council Members Deny Gun Resolutions, Play With Council Rules

By Paige Browning

The Spokane City Council turned down two non-binding resolutions related to gun-control Monday night.  It was a parliamentary nightmare for some.
It was no average council meeting, just listen to what council members Mike Fagan and Nancy McLaughlin had to say afterward.
Fagan: “Last night’s city council meeting, I’m still scratching my head about that.  I’m absolutely puzzled.”
McLaughlin: “It was politics at its best or at its worst depending on how you want to look at it.”
Council shot down two resolutions.  First, council member Jon Snyder’s resolution to support specific pieces of gun legislation in Olympia  A second by Fagan which told federal and state lawmakers that Spokane citizens support the right to bear arms, and won’t tolerate infringements upon Second Amendment rights. 

They failed not because of a debate about gun-rights, but the extent of power that the council has.  Council member Steve Salvatori made a motion that the first resolution was outside of city matters.  So, council voted it down 4-3, with only Snyder, Ben Stuckart, and Amber Waldref, voting to approve.  Next, Fagan’s resolution came up.
Fagan: “Steve Salvatori spoke up again and he put another motion on the floor with regard to, again, my resolution in support of the second amendment was outside the purview of city council responsibility.  And now we were stuck discussing the merits of why shouldn’t this be city business.”
This vote turned out a bit differently.  Fagan and McLaughlin still voted to approve it.  Snyder, Stuckart, and Waldref voted no.  Then, Salvatori and Mike Allen decided to abstain from voting.  Two in favor, three against.
This issue of city council purview came up last year, too.  A gay marriage resolution was tabled indefinitely. 
Council members generally agree they should stick to municipal issues, though this week’s meeting showed they are willing to vote differently when the issue is of interest to them.  For now, Snyder’s resolution is done, and Fagan said he turning his into a letter in hopes to get council members to sign it on their own.
Fagan: “It is what it is unfortunately.  And, you know, we’ve got more important business in the city to attend to, and we’re not going to dwell on the spilt milk.”
Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio

Official language from City Council Rules:

5.5.6 In all cases of voting by other than voice vote, the City Clerk shall record the names of those voting on each side of the question and of those abstaining. In cases of voice vote, it shall be sufficient for the Chair to announce, and the record to reflect, whether the motion carried or failed. Regardless of method of voting, each council member shall have the right, before the next matter is considered, to explain the reasons for his or her vote and such a request shall be regarded as a matter of privilege.
5.5.7 A Councilperson may only abstain from voting when he or she has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the Council, which is fully expressed to all other members of the Council during the Council meeting. 
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