Newport City Councilor Dave Allen still concerned about lack of enough communication between the city attorney and the council.
In another exchange between himself, Mayor Mark McConnell and City Manager Jim Voetberg, City Councilor David Allen again expressed visible frustration with what he characterized as inadequate communication between the city’s contract city attorney and the council as a whole, and with him in particular.
Allen complained that he sometimes feels like he’s in the dark over issues he wants to be better informed about including any progress at addressing heavy criticism of the city’s business license ordinance. Some members of the city’s lodging association have threatened to sue the city if it doesn’t come up with an ordinance that can stand up to legal scrutiny. Lodging association attorney Dennis Bortoldus claims the city’s current business license ordinance is discriminatory and inconsistently enforced. He asked for the city and the association to sit down and hammer out an ordinance that gets the job done instead of having to go to court to settle it.
Allen said that it was his impression that today the council would get an update on the city attorney’s review of the issue, but none was offered. The city attorney did not attend the city council noon workshop meeting. Allen said it was another example of insufficient communication between the city attorney and the council. Allen suggested that a remedy might involve more “progress reports” from the city attorney rather than putting her through one-on-one discussions with each councilor. Allen said he’s sensitive to not running up the city’s bill with the city attorney but at the same time he does not want all city attorney reports funneled primarily through City Manager Jim Voetberg. Allen reminded his fellow councilors that the current policy of city councilors having very limited access to the city attorney was adopted only as a temporary provision. Allen said it may be time to re-examine the issue.
In response, Mayor Mark McConnell said he’ll contact the city attorney to arrange for her to be on hand for a city council workshop set for September 19th at which time the council can get updates on the city’s pending changes to its business license ordinance including an update on at least a couple of lawsuits filed against the city by two former employees; that part of the update given behind closed doors in an executive session.