2017 Tulsa election: Proposition 3: Emergency clause for resolutions

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The third of the seven charter change propositions on the City of Tulsa November 14, 2017, ballot would permit councilors to approve resolutions with an emergency clause for immediate effect. A yes vote on Proposition No. 3 would modify Article II (City Council), Section 10 (Effective Date of Ordinances and Resolutions). The mark-up below shows the how the text would change if Proposition No. 3 is approved, with added text underlined, and deleted text stricken.

SECTION 10. EFFECTIVE DATE OF ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS.

Ordinances adopting budgets, making appropriations, pertaining to local improvements and assessments, or and any ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure shall take effect at the time stated therein. All other ordinances and resolutions shall take effect at the time stated therein, but not less than thirty (30) days from the date of first publication. Ordinances adopted by vote of the electors shall take effect at the time stated therein or, if no time be stated, thirty (30) days after the election. An ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure to provide for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, welfare, or safety shall describe the emergency in a separate section. The vote of at least two-thirds ( 2/3 ) of the entire membership of the Council shall be required to adopt any ordinance or resolution as an emergency measure.

Here is a link to the current text of Tulsa City Charter Article II, Section 10.

The ballot title reads:

Shall the City Charter of the City of Tulsa, Article II, Section 10, 'Effective Date of Ordinances and Resolutions', be amended to clarify that the City of Tulsa may adopt resolutions as emergency measures, and state the effective time thereof, in the same manner as it does ordinances?

Once again, I would love to link you to video of the debate on this proposition, but there was no discussion at all when the Council voted to put this proposition on the ballot, and video from the June 21, 2017, Urban and Economic Development committee meeting is not available on the TGOVONLINE.com, which provides (or used to provide) on-demand access to recordings of official city meetings. The minutes for that meeting indicate only that Senior Assistant City Attorney Bob Edmiston spoke and that the proposition would move forward.

Whoever drafted this amendment doesn't seem to understand the difference between AND and OR in describing sets. The current language of the section lists four different classes of ordinances which go into effect at the stated time, without a minimum 30-day delay. An ordinance which falls into any of those four classes avoids the waiting period. The new language changes the "or" to an "and": An ordinance would have to adopt a budget AND appropriate funds AND pertain to local improvements and assessments AND contain an emergency clause in order to go into immediate effect. I don't believe this was the intent. Breaking that first sentence into two would have made it easier to express the intended logic clearly. "Ordinances adopting budgets, making appropriations, or pertaining to local improvements and assessments shall take effect at the time stated therein. Any ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure shall take effect at the time stated therein." Or if you must lump it into one sentence: "Ordinances adopting budgets, making appropriations, or pertaining to local improvements and assessments, or any ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure shall take effect at the time stated therein."

This is clearly intended to be a housekeeping amendment, whose intent is already present in the later sentences of the same section, but a housekeeping amendment should not leave a bigger mess than it purports to tidy. I'll vote NO on Proposition 3 and hope that the City Council will check with a homeschooled eighth-grader about Boolean algebra and logical expressions before they try again.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 25, 2017 9:09 PM.

2017 Tulsa election: Proposition 2: Electronic notice of Special Meeting was the previous entry in this blog.

Battle of Beersheba: 100 years is the next entry in this blog.

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