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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Stuckart rearranges chairs, agendas

New Spokane City Council President may have lost an automatic seat on the Spokane Airport Board on Monday, but he still has the power to create a seating chart.

And he exercised that right by shuffling the seats on the dais that already were reshuffled by term limits and by voters last year.

Stuckart's predecessor, Joe Shogan, sat in the middle seat. Stuckart has chosen to sit at the council seat farthest to left to viewers (farthest to his right) and will sit next to City Administrator Theresa Sanders during afternoon council briefings. He shifted Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo to the seat next to him for the evening meeting.

Stuckart said he chose to sit to the side so he could have "a clearer view" that doesn't require looking both ways.

"I can actually see everybody's facial features and non-verbals, as well," he said.

Next to him is Amber Waldref. He said he placed her there because he wanted to be seated next to someone with experience and that he was consulted her frequently on council business.

Stuckart gaveled the start of his first meeting with a gavel presented to him by his parents late last year as a 40th birthday present. (Stuckart's dad, Larry Stuckart, retired last year as the executive director of SNAP, the organization formerly known as Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs.)

Another change made by Stuckart is moving the public forum to the start of evening meetings. That's the time set aside for testimony on any topic as long as it's not on that evening's agenda.

Stuckart said that his goal is to keep council meetings to two hours or less.

That might be a bit ambitious, since meetings often last for four hours or more. But there was one sign Monday night that council members might help him meet that goal.

Three of the six council members present on Monday (Stuckart, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori) spoke from prepared statements when explaining their votes on the evening's most controversial topic, stripping the council president of an automatic seat on the Airport Board. They were to the point and relatively short.

"If I didn't check myself, I could talk forever," Stuckart said, explaining why he prepared a statement.

Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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