Despite a stripped-down agenda and a lack of public speakers offering advice or agitation, Page city council July 11 failed to break the unofficial record for fastest council meeting.
At about the 16-minute mark, Mayor Bill Diak entertained a motion for adjournment that was quickly offered, seconded and approved unanimously.
In post-meeting comments, it was overheard there once was one that took a mere 11 minutes to conduct the city’s business. Perhaps that meeting was governed by Robert’s Rules of Rapidity. The current crew has its work cut out for it.
Council did, however, agree to decriminalize minor traffic and parking violations, unanimously approving the first reading of an ordinance that applies to offenses included in Chapter 12 of the city code.
City Attorney Robert Wingo told councilors that categorizing such minor offenses as second-degree misdemeanors “complicates the situation from the beginning.”
Criminal procedure, which brings into play constitutional issues, is more cumbersome and drawn out, Wingo said. A person cited for a parking violation would have to appear in person before the court where she would be arraigned and advised of her rights. She would have to plead guilty or not guilty. If the latter, a pre-trial conference would be set. If the case weren’t resolved then, it would be set for trial, which would likely necessitate subpoenas and the involvement of the city attorney’s office, police and the judge.
In contrast, someone issued a civil citation can simply mail it in after checking “responsible” or “not responsible.” If the latter, she can tell her story at an informal hearing and the judge decides.
Further, if someone fails to show for a criminal violation, a warrant could be issued for her arrest and she could end up in jail, then have to appear in court for the original citation. Making the violation a civil matter enables the court to proceed without the defendant, and the judge could enter a judgment against her.
“We don’t put people in jail for parking violations,” Wingo said, adding there is no downside to the transition from criminal to civil.
Such offenses are already civil matters under state statutes, he said. The Page Police Department, Magistrate Court and his office support the transition.
In other (fast) action, council approved a “more refined” tourism budget.
It was funded in the city budget for $300,000, which included specific salary and benefit amounts for the tourism director’s position. The tourism board “has determined more specifically how to allocate” the remaining $214,815, according to a note from city manager Rick Olson to the council.
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