After a nearly four- hour public comment session that included testimony from some 53 citizens, the Tacoma City Council was set to take a vote on what’s become a highly controversial measure of symbolism: A proposal, co-sponsored by Council members Ryan Mello and Lauren Walker, to oppose Arizona’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration.
But, due to a last minute revelation and procedural maneuver by the council, that panel will have to wait another week to take a final vote on the measure — when it is likely to be approved.
The late-hour wrangling drastically changed the tenor of the meeting — not to mention my story for tomorrow’ paper. Unfortunately, that meant I faced a extremely tight deadline and had to devote a lot of the story’s space to describing a little-used and complicated procedural maneuver that allows the measure to be brought back before council.
Essentially what happened was the majority of council members realized late in the game that they were one vote short of a 5-vote majority needed to pass the measure. With two council members, Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Spiro Manthou, absent and out-of-town in Washington D.C., Jake Fey intentionally flip-flopped his vote against the measure. The move allowed him to raise a motion to have the measure brought back to the council next week, when Strickland will be present — and available to likely cast a vote in favor of the resolution. That gives it the needed fifth vote.
(Confused? You’re not alone.)
Prior to the weirdness of what occurred, I’d planned to write a story that focused a lot on the people’s testimony, pro and con. There were some gripping words spoken on each side. They included people’s own tales of immigration and discrimination woes, while speaking in support of the measure; as well as strongly-worded speeches about why the city’s proposal is off-base. I hope to recount some of what was said in this blog tomorrow.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you tonight with this initial draft of my story on the rather unusual council actions.
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