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City government argot: Second readings aren’t a delaying tactic

From conversations, plus an article in today’s newspaper, I’ve gathered that some citizens think that City Council was delaying action on the package of parking-related ordinances proposed by city staff when we talked about possibly amending it on “second reading.” Apparently, some observers got the impression that when we talked about “second reading” during our February 13 meeting, that meant that we were deciding not to adopt the ordinance then, but delay action until March.

That’s not the case. The city charter requires (and I think state law has similar requirements) two “readings” by City Council before an ordinance is adopted. The two “readings” have to be at least a week apart and the ordinance has to get majority approval on both readings in order to be adopted. These two readings are known as “first reading” and “second reading.” At the February meeting, we had the first reading of the parking ordinances — we couldn’t have legally adopted them at that time, but we did approve them on first reading.

I don’t know where the “reading” terminology comes from, but I do know that the charter says that the proposed ordinance must be read [aloud] at both meetings, either in its entirety or by title.

Since that February 13 meeting, it has become clear that the parking ordinances have more kinks than could be worked out in time for the March 9 meeting, so they aren’t on the agenda then, but we’ll get back to them soon.

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