Stewart says workshop was illegal

Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Stewart sent an email Monday saying the council violated city policy on Sept. 13 by making decisions on how it would ask C-Tran board members to vote.

In the workshop, the council decided to have its three representatives vote in favor of keeping a light rail and bus rapid transit sales tax vote combined with the bus service sales tax vote.

As we all know, Stewart bucked that order, and was kicked of the C-Tran board by the city council in January because of it. Workshops aren’t for policy decisions, she argues, and thusly “my removal from the C Tran Board was unjustified and punitive.”

She asked City Attorney Ted Gathe for a “legal remedy,” which I’ll post here when I get it.

The email also sparked a bit of sparring between Stewart and Councilor Jack Burkman at the council meeting Monday night. Stewart outlined her email on the dais, and Burkman responded: “We talked as a group, and reached a… direction. We get work done at workshops.”

“I want to push back on that right away,” Stewart said. “Decisions were actually made. When you construct how a ballot measure should appear, that’s a decision.”

A tense few moments of silence and staring followed.

Here’s Stewart’s full email:

In January of 2011, my removal from the C Tran Board was recommended by Pat Campbell and agreed to by all other council members. The stated reason for removal was failure to follow a directive given to council members sitting on the C Tran Board of Directors.

The basis of that removal stemmed from actions taken at a Vancouver City Council Workshop on September 13, 2010.

The actions taken at that workshop were the following:

  1. A decision to formulate action to be taken forward to the C Tran Board meeting the following day.

  2. A decision by the majority of Council to a specific construction of a specific taxing measure.

  3. A decision to formulate a specific directive for future actions by Council members serving on the C Tran Board of Directors.

These actions violated the Resolution of the Vancouver City Council approving Policy and Procedure Number 100-32, Section 5.8 “Workshops”, third sentence, quote: “No formal action is taken at workshops.”

This policy was in place on September 13, 2010 and continues in place today.

The illegal action taken by the Council at a September 13, 2010 workshop, cannot be a binding obligation for any Council member to follow. Hence, if the Council action was not legal or binding, my removal from the C Tran Board was unjustified and punitive.

I ask Mr. Gathe to offer a legal remedy.

Jeanne E. Stewart, Council Member
City of Vancouver

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