Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman broke two ties Tuesday during the city council meeting.
The first tie came about after a discussion to change the city’s policy regarding the invocation before the council meeting.
Councilman David Crump issued a motion that stated the city should open it up on the city’s website, inviting the community to sign up quarterly and no later than two weeks before the meeting. The city would limit the prayer to two minutes and there should be nothing derogatory in the prayer.
Councilwoman Susan Schuler said she didn’t feel it was part of the city’s job to review those prayers and decide whether or not it was appropriate.
“I don’t know if we want to go down that road,” she said.
Crump said there would be no screening or monitoring of the prayer, everyone would be on the honor code.
“I’m not asking to screen, it’s an invitation to the public,” he said. He added this change to the city policy would be in the spirit of promoting tolerance and acceptance.
Councilman Odin Langford didn’t think the council needed to regulate the prayer. He felt it was fine the way the city does it now and didn’t care to make any changes to that.
“If it is anything that requires a vote of the council, it’s a regulation,” he said.
Councilwoman Judi Owens agreed with Langford. She did suggest a non-denominational prayer, however, which didn’t use common Christian terms such as, “In the name of Jesus Christ.” She said it was common practice for Boy Scouts to come in at the last minute when they wanted to lead the council in the Pledge of Allegiance and felt it should be the same with anyone wishing to deliver the prayer.
In the end, council members Crump, Josh Beckett and Cris Kaminskas – Beckett and Kaminskas participated in the meeting via speakerphone – voted in favor of the motion. Owens, Schuler and Langford voted against it. Councilman Ryan Romney was absent. Van Orman broke the tie by voting down the motion. She said the policy is currently in the books and the subject won’t come up again during the rest of her term as mayor.
The other tiebreaker came about after a discussion to put the city manager form of government – instead of its current strong mayor form – on the ballot in November.
Van Orman pointed out if the city changed its government, its current ordinances and regulations must be re-codified to fit the new government, which would be expensive. She stated she felt if the council put it on the ballot is was stating it supported the change.
“I don’t agree with that,” Kaminskas said via speakerphone. “I think that the people should decide.”
Owens said she didn’t think the city manager form of government was the right thing for the city and added that it shouldn’t be the council that puts it on the ballot. If the citizens gather 200 signatures, it should come from them, not the council.
“I would like it to come from the citizens,” Crump agreed.
Beckett, Kaminskas and Langford voted yes on the motion. Owens, Crump and Schuler voted no. The mayor agreed the issue should come from the citizens, not the council to put it on the ballot.
“I don’t believe council should put it on there knowing it would cost the city money,” she said.