February 9, 2012 in Washington Voices

Liberty Lake not changing attendance rules

Council also votes to keep prayer policy in tact
By The Spokesman-Review
Coming up

The next Liberty Lake City Council meeting will be 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

The Liberty Lake City Council will not change its rules of procedure to relieve a council member of duty after 10 absences, excused or not.

The discussion began Tuesday with Councilman Odin Langford suggesting they add “upon the vote of the council” to the rule, in case extenuating circumstances kept a member from attending the meetings.

Councilman Josh Beckett said the rules are good enough already, because state law said three consecutive unexcused absences would cause a council member to forfeit their seat. He also said voters didn’t seem to have a problem with it, as Councilmember Susan Schuler was recently re-elected after running unopposed and has several absences at meetings.

“I don’t believe we need this section at all,” Beckett said. “Ultimately, that’s what elections are for.”

Schuler said she believes she is the reason they were having this discussion. She said she felt the previous mayor had a problem with her absences. She said illness kept her from meetings.

“I’m still really sick,” she said, but she’s managing that and she’s “not sitting at home eating bonbons.”

She also said if the council had to vote to remove someone, she believes they would be sitting in judgment over that council person.

“What if you don’t like somebody?” she asked.

New Councilman Keith Kopelson said the council was trying to fix problems that don’t exist.

“I’m not sure why we’re trying to change the language at all,” he said.

Ultimately, the state’s rule will stand: Three consecutive unexcused absences result in a forfeited council seat.

The invocation held before every meeting came up again Tuesday, with language in the council rules of procedure that would limit any prayer that favors any specific religious faith.

“How do you say a prayer and not favor a religious faith?” Schuler asked.

Councilman Shane Brickner said he respects all religious faiths, adding if the council fears litigation, perhaps the policy should be changed to call for a moment of silence.

“We can all individually pray to our religious belief system,” he said.

It was decided to keep the existing invocation language: “By invitation.”

Finally, council approved a resolution to allow council members to volunteer with the Fire Department, Police Department and ambulances.

The rule was brought up to accommodate Brickner, who has been a reserve police officer in Liberty Lake for the past six years and would like to continue.

The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution, with Brickner abstaining from the vote.

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