After the Bainbridge Island City Council completed the city’s business at its Wednesday meeting, one last matter lingered and could not be left unattended: seating assignments.
When the council addressed items for the good of the order, Councilman Bob Scales brought up the issue of the new city manager, Doug Schulze, sitting alongside the council on the dais.
“I feel it’s sort of awkward,” Scales said. “It sort of seems awkward since he can’t participate in votes.”
“I would like to give him the option,” Scales added. “But I feel I would be more connected with him as city manager if he is down there.”
Scales pointed to the side of the dais where staff sit, at a ground level stretch of desks.
Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos chimed in and agreed with Scales.
She said that if she were the mayor she would want to better see Schulze and gauge his body language.
Schulze noted that most configurations he has seen in the position have placed the city manager and city attorney next to the mayor, and the rest of the city council on the other side of the mayor.
But ultimately, he said, it’s about what the council is comfortable with.
It was decided to experiment a little.
An end of the dais not commonly used will be looked at for potential. The end does not have microphones or face TV cameras, however, Schulze said the city’s tech workers would look for a fix.
When the council was still searching for a city manager last summer, it was advised by consultants Ron Holifield and Tom Muehlenbeck of Strategic Government Resources that the city manager should sit with the council.
As members of the search firm charged with finding the city manager, they said that it was unusual to have the city manager sit apart from the council.
Having the city manager sit with the council, they said, would give the impression of cohesive city management.
The council took the advice to heart. It was decided over the summer to look into the matter, and possibly redesign the dais into a horseshoe shape to accommodate the city manager.
Richard D. Oxley can be reached at 206-842-6613 or roxley@bainbridge