Meeting Recap 8.9.16

Last night, Council met for a Business Meeting at 6:30 PM at City Hall.  Here’s a quick recap:

Father Mike Flanagan of Holy Cross Episcopal Church prayed before the meeting began.

Scott Elliott, a local Boy Scout working on earning a merit badge, lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Citizen Comments:

10 people spoke during the Citizen Comments portion of the meeting.  Of those, 6 spoke to encourage Council to vote in favor of the Woodside Mills Habitat for Humanity project that was on the agenda.  One spoke about his concerns with the project and urged Council to consider several environmental impacts if we were to move forward with the project. 2 spoke to concerns they have regarding the new privatized solid waste collections procedures. 1 spoke requesting more transparency in the publication of ordinances under consideration by Council.

Council Rules:

I made a motion that Council adopt on 2nd Reading Ordinance 2016-05, Council Rules.  This was seconded by Councilman Gooch. Several subsidiary motions followed. Councilman Graham moved to amend the motion, asking for a public hearing.  Given this was a 2nd Reading after more than 6 months of public discussion and consideration, the amendment failed 4 (Gooch, Hulehan, Cummings, Curtis)-3 (Graham, Braswell, Lockaby).  Councilman Gooch moved to amend the motion with 4 updates, most of which were just adjustments to wording for the purpose of clarification.  The only substantial change was to strike from 1.93B the words that indicate there is no limit to the number of times a Councilmember may speak.  This was discussed in a previous Committee meeting where 2 or 3 Councilmembers voiced concerns about allowing unlimited speaking opportunities, which could decrease meeting efficiency.  Councilmember Lockaby with a second by Councilman Graham motioned to table the matter. This motion failed 4-3.  The next motion was to table the matter to Committee.  This motion also failed.  Council then voted on the motion as amended by Councilman Gooch.  This motion passed 4-3.  Finally, Council voted on the original motion, which carried, also 4-3.  Opposed (to both the Gooch amendment and original motion): Graham, Braswell, Lockaby. I am very grateful that after 7 months of discussion and work & multiple drafts and revisions, Council Rules will finally be in place to increase efficiency, productivity, and civility.  Read more about Council Rules in previous blog posts here. Read the Ordinance here.

Building Codes:

Staff asked Council to approve on 1st Reading Ordinance 2016-06, a revision to the Adoption of Building Codes.  This update is mandated because we have to match updated International Building Codes, so there was little to no discussion. Approved unanimously. Read the Ordinance here.

Solid Waste Management Revisions:

Staff asked Council to approve on 1st Reading Ordinance 2016-07, Solid Waste Management Revisions.  The purpose of these revisions is to remove from the ordinance Public Works Policy that does not need to be included in the ordinance.  As an operational procedure of the Department, it should exist separately from the ordinance.  This will make it easier to revise as needed.  Further, it puts the operational policy back in the hands of the Department Head, where it belongs.  No other Department’s policy is included in ordinance or set by Council. Passed on 1st Reading 5-2, with Gooch and Graham opposed. Read the Ordinance here.

Solid Waste Operation Policy:

Staff asked Council to approve the new policy.  The purpose of the new policy is to match the contractual agreement Council already approved with ACE for the collection of solid waste.  Again, it was noted that Department policy really shouldn’t be decided upon by Council, but Mr. Crawford, Director of Public Works, wanted Council approval since it was associated with such a major change.  Several Councilmembers expressed a desire to keep an eye on the possible negative ramifications of key points of the policy (some of which had been brought up in Citizen Comments). It was agreed we would remain open to possible changes, and as I pointed out, because the policy is no longer part of the ordinance, Public Works can make changes as needed.  So as we roll out the new solid waste services, we can adjust. The policy passed by a 5-2 voted with Graham and Lockaby opposed.

Chief Judge Salary:

Council unanimously voted to approve an adjustment to the salary of our Chief Judge.  This was previously discussed in Executive Session.

Unity Meal:

This motion, made by Councilman Cummings, came from Committee. Councilmember Braswell asked that it be renamed “Unity/Inclusiveness Meal.”  Other discussion revolved around finding a date.  Motion carried unanimously.  The City Administrator will organize the event and post details publicly.

Habitat for Humanity Development Proposal at Woodside Park:

Councilman Gooch brought this motion, which he’d introduced in the previous Committee meeting. It passed to this Business Meeting by a 4-3 vote, with Graham, Braswell, and Lockaby opposed. In opening discussion on the topic, Councilman Gooch asked those in attendance who had come to support the proposal to stand. The room was full, and nearly every person stood.  Much discussion followed; every Councilmember spoke. Ultimately, the motion carried 5-2 with Graham and Lockaby opposed.The crowd applauded this outcome.  For the discussion, please refer to the mp3, which should be posted on the City’s website today.

A-Tax Committee:

Staff asked Council to appoint the new A-Tax Committee. The Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee is tasked with making recommendations to the city council on the expenditure of revenues generated in Simpsonville from the state accommodations tax. This committee is made up of seven members who must be business people whose business operates within the city limits of Simpsonville per the committee bylaws. Per state law, at least four of the seven members must be selected from the hospitality industry of the city. At least two of these four members from the hospitality industry must be from the lodging industry. At least one of the seven members must represent the cultural organizations of the city. Council appointed the following members via a series of ballot votes:

  1. Carol Bettencourt, owner Artisan Dance (cultural organization)
  2. Sherrie Crawford, General Manager, Comfort Suites Simpsonville (lodging)
  3. Rory Curtis, Owner, Carolina Olive Oil (hospitality)
  4. Ben Duncan, Owner, Simpsonville Ace Hardware (at-large)
  5. Jason Hucks, Owner, Hucks Financial Services (at-large)
  6. Raj Patel, Owner, Holiday Inn Express & Suites (lodging)
  7. Julia Scholz, Owner, Stella’s Southern Bistro (hospitality)


Daytime Trial Judge:

Our Chief Judge, the Honorable Rick Moore, has made some adjustments to improve the efficiency of our municipal court, including reducing the number of days that court is held from three to two days per week. Judge Moore will also be re-instituting a domestic violence court that will be conducted one day per month. Judge Moore has indicated that he will be able to conduct the domestic violence court as well as the municipal court one day per week. This means that the City is in need of appointing an assistant judge who could conduct municipal court the other day each week. Consistent with the City’s policy, Ms. Phyllis Long has advertised this position internally. Ms. Barbara Ferguson, who is one of the City’s on-call assistant judges, has applied for this responsibility in addition to her current on-call duties. Judge Moore has reviewed her application and finds her duly qualified to take on the responsibilities of a daytime trial judge. She has extensive experience in court and practicing law including being licensed as an attorney. Judge Moore has expressed that he would fully support her appointment. Per Ms. Long, it has been the general policy of the City that when it finds a qualified internal candidate that candidate is given preference and typically the position is not opened up to external candidates. Staff asked Council to consider the appointment of Ms. Ferguson to these additional responsibilities or to direct staff to open up the position to external candidates.

Council voted unanimously to appoint Ms. Ferguson.

Council then moved into Executive Session for the following:

1) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements for the Fair at Heritage Park.

2) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements for the management of the amphitheater.

3) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements for the supply of recyclable materials.

Upon returning to open session, the following actions were taken:

  1. Motion to approve the extension of the event agreement for the Fair at Heritage Park for a period of 4 years and authorize the City Administrator to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. Motion carried unanimously.
  2. Motion to extend the management agreement for the Amphitheater for a period of 1 year and authorize the City Administrator to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. Motion carried unanimously.
  3. Motion to approve the proposed contractual arrangements for the supply of recyclable materials and authorize the City Administrator to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. Motion carried unanimously.

Meeting adjourned.

Meeting Recap

Here’s a quick recap from last night’s meeting in case you were’t able to attend.  Also, the MP3 will be up later today, and it’s only 30 minutes long, so you may want to check it out!

Mayor Curtis issued a proclamation recognizing and honoring Daniel Madriaga.

Daniel Madriaga is the owner of Black Belt Attitude ATA Karate School.  He has 3 schools in Greenville County with 2 of them being in Simpsonville (one on NE Main Street and the other in Five Forks).  On June 29, 2016, Daniel Madriaga will be elevated to the rank of Master in the ATA Karate.  His is currently a 6th degree black belt.  He has been studying karate since he was 10 years old and became a black belt at the age of 12.  He began teaching Taekwondo at the age of 15 years old.  In 2004, he was teaching in the Miami FL area.  In 2011, he decided to open his own karate school and began looking at different places to move and open a school.  He considered GA and NC and found SC to be the best fit and opened his first school in Simpsonville, SC.  The school will celebrate 5 years on June 24-25, 2016.  Under Daniel Madriaga’s leadership, his schools are teaching Simpsonville citizens life skills such as discipline, self respect, self-defense, honesty and self esteem development.  He has saidthat “The classes are not just about kicks and punches.  It also teaches students how they should behave everywhere and helping them do better.”

Daniel Madriaga will become the 3rd karate Master in Greenville County and the 1st in Simpsonville.  This is a high honor for him, his schools and the City of Simpsonville.  His schools will have a Belt Promotion Ceremony on July 23, 2016, and the students and parents will be recognizing him for reaching such a high goal.

The Leadership Simpsonville Class of 2016 was again present at our meeting to give some additional information about their upcoming projects. Check them out on Facebook here for additional info.  Council voted unanimously to approve these projects.

Council voted unanimously to charge City Administrator David Dyrhaug with developing a strategic action plan for ongoing community and economic development.  Read more here.

Council voted 4 (Gooch, Hulehan, Cummings, Curtis)-3 (Graham, Braswell, Lockaby) to approve on 1st reading Ordinance 2016-03, which is the ordinance commonly referred to as “Council Rules.”  We’ve been working on this since the first of the year.  The next vote will take place at the August business meeting.

The Sewer Loan was moved to an upcoming meeting because it requires more analysis per City Administrator.

Council voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Jay Crawford as Public Works Director.  Mr. Crawford has been serving as Interim Director since January, and he’s been doing a great job.  We are lucky he’s willing to take on this role permanently.

Council voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Ms. Christine Furino as City Treasurer for the remainder for the current term of office (ending December 31st, 2017).  Ms. Furino recently accepted the job as Finance Director. Ms. Furino has been with the City of Simpsonville since late 2013 as the City’s Senior Accountant Supervisor.  We are grateful she is willing to serve in this additional role.


About Robert’s Rules…

My copy of RONR

There’s been a lot of discussion of late about Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (RONR) of which our city ordinance says, “Except as otherwise required by state law or ordinance, all proceedings of council shall be governed by the latest edition of “Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.”

Fun fact: I served as Parliamentarian of the Delta Pi Chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma. That was YEARS ago, though, so I’ve definitely needed a refresher.

I’ve been reading and highlighting and tabbing as fast as I can!  (Remember when I said it’s a 716 page book?)

If you’re not familiar with parliamentary procedure, it can be difficult to participate in (members) or follow along with (non-members) meetings. But RONR is important because it keeps the meeting and its members in order.  While I firmly agree with the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) that we need “local rules of procedure [that] address processes distinctive to municipal council meetings,” for the time being, we have our current ordinances and their reference back to RONR for anything not covered by ordinance. (Read more here about my position on Council Rules of Procedure and Decorum and why I think we needs additional supplemental rules to our current ordinances and RONR)

Thus, I’m going to do a series of posts on RONR for informational purposes. I’ll hashtag them #RONR to make them easy to find on social media–for me, for you, for anyone who’s interested. Stay tuned!

Note: after writing this post, it came to my attention that there’s a rumor floating around that I want to abolish RONR in favor of…(I’m not really sure what).  So let me clarify–again: Council Rules of Procedure and Decorum are based on RONR or Mason’s. Want to see an example, check out Greenville County’s here.

Screenshot 2016-02-13 12.39.01
From the City of Simpsonville Code of Ordinances

About that Meeting…

Several people have expressed to me that they are disappointed in the way the last council meeting went.  In the interest of transparency (and because I know what I’ve said elsewhere will be posted to the internet anyway), I am sharing my response here:

I am also disappointed in the outcome of the last meeting. I am sure you are familiar with the saying “If you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk.” I try to do that.

So yes: what happened at that meeting should not happen again. The question, for me, then is “What do we do to ensure that?”

My talk: I teach college, career, and life skills at Tri-County Technical College. Part of what I teach is that one of the keys to success is accepting personal responsibility. I tell students that when we are confronted with an undesirable outcome, we have two choices about how to approach the situation. We can adopt what we call a Victim mindset, or we can adopt a Creator mindset. When we approach a situation with the Victim mindset, we fall into a habit of complaining, blaming, excusing, and repeating behavior. The result is we seldom achieve our goals. If we approach a situation with the Creator mindset, we strive to accept responsibility, seek solutions, take action, and try new things. The result is we often achieve our goals.

My walk: In this situation, I am approaching what occurred with a Creator mindset. My goal is to have meetings that ensure consistent and fair treatment of citizens, staff, and fellow councilmembers; are orderly and efficient; and comply with state and federal law. My action plan is to continue to work on establishing a set of procedural rules and decorum guidelines. We have already started our work on that. At the next workshop meeting, I hope we’ll be able to share more of our ideas on the draft of that document, so we can move forward with it. I believe that this will help us to avoid the problems from the last council meeting in the future. I think it’s important that as a council we work on those together to create something that will work for us.

We all—all 7 of us—bear the responsibility for ensuring we have meetings conducive to achieving our goals for the city. If that doesn’t happen, then each of us is responsible for that failure. As Jeff Shacker of the MASC said to us during our Session A training, “municipal government is a team sport.” Effective teams are not created over night. They take time and work. I look forward to that work as we continue to strive to be the kind of team Simpsonville can be proud of.

I hope that our community will support us on this journey. After all, we’re all in this together: One Simpsonville.

Read more about Council Rules for Procedure and Decorum here and show your support.

Reminder about my social media guidelines.

One Simpsonville: Order and Decorum

First, let me be clear about my intent: I will not point fingers or assign blame, nor will I entertain comments or discussion that do so or that violate the Jenn4Ward3 social media guidelines. I do not think that’s productive. With that said, I believe that we as city leaders—all of us—are responsible for working together to restore order and decorum to Simpsonville City Council meetings. My intent here is to explain how we can make that happen and how you, as residents and business owners of Simpsonville, can help.

This is why at the very first Workshop meeting I proposed the idea of a resolution to adopt Council Rules of Procedure and Decorum. We worked on a draft. This first draft was reviewed by the city attorney, and we brought it to the business meeting. It still needed some work—additions, deletions, and some tweaking. Also, we determined that we should adopt an ordinance rather than a resolution. So I moved that we refer it back to Committee of the Whole; the motion was approved. Thus, over the next two weeks, councilmembers and staff will have the opportunity to further review the proposed ordinance, ask questions as needed, and provide their feedback on the contents and form. Then, we’ll discuss the Council Rules again at the next Workshop meeting on Tuesday, February 23. I hope that we will then be able to bring the ordinance to the next business meeting for a first reading and vote.

So what exactly is this ordinance? The purpose is to establish procedural rules and decorum guidelines to ensure consistent and fair treatment of citizens, staff, and fellow councilmembers; orderly and efficient public proceedings; and compliance with state and federal law.

Some will argue that Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (RONR) is sufficient to this end; however, I think our own meetings are evidence that’s not working for us. RONR is a 716 page book. That’s a lot of rules to remember and adhere by, and not all of them are relevant to or appropriate for our meetings. Further, in some cases, RONR offers a variety of options from which to choose, and some items covered by RONR are actually in conflict with regulations we must abide by, like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Thus, it will be beneficial to adopt rules based on RONR but that are specific to our own needs. Many councils do this, and even our own Planning Commission has done it. It’s time for the Council to do it as well.

Naturally, we are going to experience growing pains as we adopt such rules, and I would ask you support us as we do that.

This ordinance is the first step in getting us to where we need to be and to working together for the benefit of One Simpsonville, where we are all proud to live, work, and play.