WESTMINSTER — The City Council ordered its attorney to draft legislation that would remove the mayor's authority to appoint council committees, said Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, responding to what he views as an ongoing effort to reduce his authority.
Brown distributed Friday a copy of thedraft legislation, which he said was prepared by City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr.
"What this basically would do is leave me with just the veto, andthat's it," Brown said. "I think the City Council has it in its mindto strip every bit of authority from me that they have the authorityto strip."
Under the existing city code, the mayor can appoint members and chairmen to the council's so-called standing committees.
The committees -- Finance, Public Improvements, Public Safety, Public Utilities (water) and Public Works (sewer) -- conduct work that often results in legislation and influences council decision-making. Thedraft Brown distributed Friday calls for transferring appointment powers to the council president.
The council plans action tomorrow on revisions to its procedural rules. However, members said the passage regarding mayoral committee-appointment power is not included in the proposal.
"That is not the legislation that is going to be proposed," said Councilman Samuel V. Greenholtz, who is seeking re-election to a second term in tomorrow's election. "That is absolutely wrong."
Council President Kenneth Hornberger said Friday that he saw a draft of the measure several weeks ago but did not support the initiative or take part in it.
Councilman Mark S. Snyder chairs the Public Improvements Committee, which oversees the revision. He was unavailable for comment, and his colleagues said he alone could comment on why the measure was prepared if it is not to be introduced.
Two weeks ago, however, Snyder said in an interview that no such legislationhad been ordered.
"I give you my word there's no such animal," said Snyder, who also is seeking a second term in tomorrow's council election. "It's not true."
Walsh does not comment on pending legislation. Snyder refused a reporter's request to allow the city attorney to comment on this latest proposal.
The measure to be introduced, and probably passed, addresses "house-cleaning" matters, Snyder said.For example, one proposal would excuse department heads from attendance at council meetings. With the hiring of a city manager, it's no longer necessary to have department chiefs at the meetings, Snyder said.
"It's just no big deal," he said of the resolution.
Both Snyder and Greenholtz said the revision package that will be considered tomorrow does not include a mayoral-appointment modification.
Whether or not the measure is introduced, Brown said, he believes the draft was part of an ongoing effort to reduce his authority.
Last fall, when passing the legislation that paved the way for creation of the city manager position, the council included a provision that transferred supervision of department heads from the mayor to the city manager. The council also made the city manager report to the council rather than the mayor.
Councilman Edward Calwell said Friday he was unaware of a plan to reduce the mayor's power.
"I'm not in favor oftaking these appointments away from the mayor," Calwell said.
Theagenda for tomorrow night's meeting calls for the council to suspendthe regular rules of order so that it can both introduce and enact legislation on the same night. Proposed resolutions usually must be introduced at one meeting and voted on at another.
The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.