Council decision-making should be done as meeting agenda items, Councilman Destadio says

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Official portrait of the Peachtree City Council. (L-R) Mike King, Phil Prebor, Mayor Kim Learnard, Gretchen Caola and Frank Destadio.

Peachtree City Councilman Frank Destadio complains that the council makes too many decisions out of public sight.

He emailed the other members to urge a change in their practice of making decisions on issues without the issues ever showing up as agenda items in a public meeting.

Peachtree City Councilman Frank Destadio
Peachtree City Councilman Frank Destadio

Here’s Destadio’s email, obtained through an Open Records request:

Ever since I have been on the Council we have had these 2X2 meetings.

Initially I was under the impression they were to assist the Council members to stay abreast of issues and to have some time to ask specific questions so we could answer our constituents.

More and more it seems to me that one purpose is to determine how each Council member feels about specific issues. This is also fine with me.

What bothers me is that obtaining three members concurrence does not constitute approval. Items still must be put on the agenda and brought for a vote.

We all agreed to have our city manager review the speed bump and safety issue along with the City staff. He went out and made a unilateral decision to remove the majority of them without consideration for the many citizens who wrote to us expressing the fact that they thought they were needed.

Now I have received several calls asking why the removal was not brought to the Council as an agenda item so they could attend and express their concerns before we voted. This made me think about we are doing.

If we meet in these 2X2’s and there are three members who concur with a topic, that does not give the City Manager approval to go and execute the action.

That means the topic should be on an upcoming agenda and we should vote up or down in front of our citizens. Otherwise we are voting behind their backs and executing items without their knowledge. We need to stop this action.

Frank Destadio

Council member

Peachtree City, Ga.

8 COMMENTS

  1. He is not wrong. 2×2 meetings are fine, but not decisions. In fact, councils have to be very careful about meeting together outside the council room. A quorum outside the council meeting is a huge compromise of the position. Any discussions that lead to decisions MUST be brought to the next City Council meeting agenda with understanding and full disclosure. Such decisions are ONLY suppose to be made when immediate safety or opportunity would preclude waiting for the formal Council meeting and MUST have possibility to be undone.
    City Managers are suppose to operate in the day-to-day execution of decisions made in Council Meetings.

  2. I agree, closed door meetings need to go away. That was a big problem with the Gretchen and Joe potential gold cart path closure. It was dealt with in a closed door meeting and I believe Frank sided with Gretchen on this issue. Allowing Joe to attend this closed door meeting, well, thar was just the cherry on top.

  3. I think Lever is right; we do need y’all to run a functioning local government. I think you are, but appearances seem contrary. I’m serious and not being sarcastic when I say, I appreciate our Honorable Council Members. I don’t want your job.

    Whereas any elected official has a difficult task, especially given (what seems to me) public outrage over things easily satisfied with simple judgement and communication, I offer my second recommendation: During City Council meetings, attempt to align anticipated public comments to the appropriate agenda items as they are presented. It may take longer, but I think it gives more public purpose to the presenters and will reduce a lot of irritations and frustrations of the “blah, blah, blah, and yada, yada, yada.” Where there is no obvious alignment, save the general public comments until the last of “New Business,” offer appropriate action (e.g., placement on next agenda for old business, establish a specifically oriented workshop/meeting, relook a previously established rule (decision, provision, ordinance).

  4. So if I get it right, the council decides on speed humps Then councilwoman starts placing them like weeds. Mayor then says they agree it’s too much and they will let staff place them as they see fit and council will stay out of it. City manager who is resigning decides to yank bulk of them out. Now council member wants to change council rules and weaken manager because council didn’t get a say in the matter.

    • Council sets policy, manager enacts it as manager sees fit. Day-to-day ops are supposed to be manager’s decision. If manager runs afoul of council, he gets canned. It’s a balancing act…council isn’t supposed to run day-to-day, but they often do. Manager has to decide how much micro-managing she/he is willing to take, and the razor’s edge often slices. This is why County/City managers rarely last more than three years in the position.

    • So far this year we have had three city managers. The one that retired back around April is the one that had the most to do with the recommending of the speed bumps and the installation of the speed bumps I believe.

  5. We’re going to need y’all to get it together and actually run a functioning local government. Give the city manager space to do his job. This entire thing started with specifically & inappropriately instructing city employees – putting it on the agenda probably wouldn’t have been required if the whole thing had been kosher from the start.