BELLINGHAM - City Council members unanimously approved Seth Fleetwood as council president for 2013 during their first meeting of the year Monday, Jan. 7.
Fleetwood takes the gavel from 2012 president Terry Bornemann. The council president chairs the council meetings.
Michael Lilliquist was chosen as president pro tem, to chair meetings in Fleetwood's absence. Stan Snapp was chosen mayor pro tem, to serve as mayor in the absence of Kelli Linville.
After about an hour of discussion, council members also decided to make some changes to their committee schedule and structure.
In recent years, most council committees have met on Monday afternoons, leading up to the 7 p.m. regular session of the full council. For 2013, they will schedule public works committee meetings at 9 a.m. and planning committee meetings at 10:30 a.m., in the hope that the new schedule will free up more discussion time during the afternoons. Some council members said they too often feel rushed to get through afternoon committee business.
In another matter, the council voted 6-1 to limit committee membership to three persons, with Jack Weiss dissenting. Last year, the Lake Whatcom committee and the planning committee had four members.
Council member Cathy Lehman said her research indicated that very few cities have committees that contain a quorum, or majority, of council members. Limiting committees to three members will ensure that decisions are made by the full council and not in committee.
Weiss said he didn't think the four-member committees had ever caused any problems.
Weiss later moved unsuccessfully to abolish the waterfront development committee, arguing that waterfront planning should be discussed in "committee of the whole" sessions with all council members. The motion failed 4-3, with Lehman, Bornemann, Stan Snapp and Gene Knutson voting no. Lilliquist and Fleetwood joined Weiss in voting for it.
Council members then voted 6-1 to abolish the transportation committee, moving transportation matters under the jurisdiction of the public works committee. Weiss voted no.