By the time you read this, you'll either be bracing yourself for the sweeping changes headed to your city government by a new Republican mayor ... or moaning about how things in city government never change, and the latest public gaffe committed by the Democratic mayor.
Regardless of who wins the top seat, one thing is for sure: Your city council will be different come January. And with all the talk about change being needed in the mayor's office, the changes coming to city council will cause a shake-up as well.
Look at the Oct. 31 vote on the city's proposed police domestic-violence legislation. Council President Doug Shields took the leadership role on this issue after Mayor Luke Ravenstahl first skipped a public hearing on the matter to go golfing, then promised to meet with women's groups about their concerns but didn't until just before the election. (Ravenstahl blamed those organizations for taking the matter public rather than scheduling a meeting with him.)
Shields' ordinance wasn't perfect, but it addressed several issues and was endorsed by several women's groups. So as Shields' ordinance came up for a vote -- a week before the election -- Ravenstahl sent a request to hold the vote for two weeks while he drafts his own legislation.
Six council members -- Jim Motznik, Tonya Payne, Twanda Carlisle, Darlene Harris, Len Bodack and Dan Deasey -- voted to give the mayor his two weeks even though he's had months to come up with something.
But as of January, Carlisle and Bodack will be replaced by Ricky Burgess and Patrick Dowd, respectively. (Bruce Kraus will be replacing Jeff Koch, who voted against Ravenstahl's hold.) Council watchers have been wondering for months if the new members will mean a power shift. Even assuming Ravenstahl wins re-election, would council be less favorable to his agenda? Will 6-3 votes for the mayor's policies suddenly go 5-4 the other direction?
It's hard to say. A lot of East End progressives who backed Dowd, for example, no doubt expect he and abortive mayoral challenger Bill Peduto to be on the same page. But the new councilors will go in with allegiances only to their districts. Where they go from there is going to make for a very interesting 2008. And if we somehow also end up with a Republican mayor, it really will be a new ballgame.
Upcoming Special Meetings and Public Hearings
At 2 p.m., Mon., Nov. 19, a special council meeting -- no public comment will be allowed -- will be held regarding the city's street-cleaning program.