Disputed Council Votes Will Stand, Says City Attorney By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday June 28, 2005

Berkeley will not turn back the clock on last week’s disputed City Council meeting, according to City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque. 

On Sunday, Councilmember Dona Spring asked Albuquerque to invalidate two key votes the council took near the end of its five-hour meeting because, she said, the meeting should legally have ended before the votes took place. 

Confusion reigned last week when the council, working late into the night, extended its meeting to 11:50 p.m. Then, with the clocks in the council chambers reading 11:51, Mayor Tom Bates called to further extend the meeting, setting off a debate over whether the mayor’s request came too late and the meeting was already legally over.  

Ultimately City Clerk Sara Cox said her watch read 11:50 p.m. when Bates proposed extending the meeting, which allowed the council to continue its work. 

After reviewing a tape of the meeting Spring is convinced the council should have adjourned at 11:50 p.m. “The clerk said it was 11:50 p.m. on her watch even though the room clock said 11:51,” she said. Spring added that the council also should have adjourned the meeting at midnight, since it failed to “suspend its rules,” a requirement for extending the meeting past 12 a.m. 

Albuquerque said there was no law that the council follow any particular clock at meetings. She added that the council discussed the issue at length during its meeting before deciding to continue and that she considered the matter closed. 

After the council continued the meeting it passed a resolution lowering sewer fees for UC Berkeley to comply with the recent agreement between the city and the university about the university’s long-range plan, and defeated a proposal to request the city hold a public hearing before issuing permits to demolish illegal homes at an East Bay warehouse.  

On Thursday, the city issued the demolition permits for the warehouse.e