Policy priorities prompt spat on council

Tooloee’s move to advance his own policies is opposed by fellow councilors.

Enacting environmental and land use regulations favored by one city council member won’t top the city’s to-do list next year.

Councilman Nezam Tooloee failed to gain the council’s support for a series of policy deadlines and budget priorities during a contentious discussion at last week’s council meeting.

A resolution drafted by Tooloee was aimed at ensuring that his favored policies – many of them related to the city’s Critical Areas Ordinance – do not fall by the wayside among city staff.

“We need to be on a cooperative track with the city administration in getting things done rather than micromanaging the city administration,” said Councilman Bill Knobloch, who expressed concerns that Tooloee’s resolution would over-burden city staff. “Let’s stop looking over the shoulder of our city administrators.”

Tooloee sharply disagreed with Knobloch’s characterization of the resolution.

“This resolution has no work load impact this year,” he said. “Anyone trying to characterize these policies – which are significant policies – as micromanaging clearly has no appreciation for policy.”

Tooloee’s resolution would have set deadlines for the city to enact already approved programs and policies, which he said would protect the island water supply and amend the Critical Areas Ordinance for more flexible land use.

His resolution also highlighted earlier council decisions that would promote wildlife corridors and the city’s shoreline stewardship program.

Tooloee wanted to set Dec. 31 of this year as the implementation date for many of his resolution’s policies.

“This simply organizes the information and makes it easy to refer to and easy to look up information,” said Tooloee. “These policies, right now, are only written up in the minutes from workshops we did last year. Many citizen’s committees and staff and other people are asking where they are because they didn’t know about them.”

Councilman Jim Llewellyn backed Tooloee’s proposal, calling it a “good idea” that would establish a “clear view” of what the council had intended during discussions last year.

But other councilors said policies proposed by Tooloee should follow the same path as other recently adopted policies.

“This is essentially marching orders,” Councilman Chris Snow said.

Once approved by the council, new city policies are typically implemented based on importance and immediacy of need. Integral changes to the CAO might see rapid implementation, while the city’s new heritage tree program might experience some lag time, Knobloch said.

Tooloee called efforts to quash his resolution as “bordering on arrogance,” before he was reprimanded by Mayor Darlene Kordonowy for speaking out of turn and in a manner disrespectful of fellow councilors.

While supporting the spirit of some of the policies, Councilman Kjell Stoknes said he feared that Tooloee’s resolution would create redundancy in city government, set unnecessary deadlines and endanger funding for other high-priority policies.

“The chief concern for me was that (Tooloee’s) policies would be mandated with a fixed time period,” Stoknes said Thursday. “As a result, it gives these policies a foot in the door over other programs that are more critical. I don’t want to put the council in a box on the budget.”

Stoknes also stressed that the current council is different than the one that approved many of Tooloee’s policies. Both Stoknes and Snow had not yet been elected to the council when the policies were approved last year.

“Nezam has a very strong personality and pushes hard for what he wants,” said Stoknes. “But we don’t all have the same reality. I respect his reality, but it’s not necessarily the same as mine.”

Tooloee agreed to send his resolution back to the council’s Land Use Committee for further review.

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