If you look at the Galveston City Council’s agenda today, you might be forgiven if you foresee two hours of public business and half a day of posturing. You might be forgiven if you wondered whether an election was coming up and some council members were using the meeting to campaign.
It would be humorous if every item on today’s agenda were harmless. But some erode the council-manager form of government.
The whole idea of that form of government, remember, involves a basic separation of powers. The council sets policy. The manager oversees day-to-day operations of the city.
Why would anyone see an erosion of that separation of powers?
• One item on today’s agenda seeks to add a towing company to the rotation. Look at the charter. Do you see any reason that the council needs to direct who should be in the towing rotation?
• Another agenda item seeks to resolve delays to the construction of the new Sea Scout base because of permitting problems. The council should set policy for the city’s permitting process, making sure that it’s reasonable and fair. But if the council has to be involved in resolving individual permitting problems, it’s presiding over a dysfunctional government.
• Yet another item would appoint an advisory member to a city committee. If some people run into term limits, they are summarily knocked off boards. If other people run into term limits, the council appoints them as “advisory members.”
At the end of the day, the council should ask itself whether it’s really conscientiously setting policy and leaving the day-to-day operations to the staff. If it studies its own agenda closely, it might conclude its doing something else.
At a glance
WHAT: Galveston City Council meeting
WHEN: 1 p.m. today
WHERE: City Hall, 823 Rosenberg, in Galveston