March 19, 2008

Whoops! City Council holds special meeting after agenda mistake

The Racine City Council will hold a rare noon time meeting Thursday to approve a handful of items that were accidentally left off the agenda for Tuesday's regular meeting.

Sixteen items from the Public Works committee were not properly noticed, said City Administrator Ben Hughes. State law requires all items on a governmental body's agenda to be made public 24 hours before the start of the meeting. The law is designed to prevent government officials from discussing or passing laws without telling anyone about them.

The 16 items before the Council on Thursday appear to be routine business (see the agenda here). The special meeting could last less than 10 minutes.

Hughes said the special meeting was called because the city needed to take action on some of the items before its next regularly scheduled meeting. However, none of the items qualified as an "emergency," which would have allowed the council to suspend the rules Tuesday and vote despite not giving proper notice.

"When government makes a mistake, we of all people have to own up to it," Hughes said.

In an e-mail to City Council members Wednesday, Hughes said the error was an employee mistake. He took responsibility for the error, and promised that checks and safeguards would be put into place to prevent future omissions from agendas.

Hughes noted that it was the third time in the six months that he had been administrator that there had been a problem with the City Council's agenda.

Here's an excerpt from his letter:
I fully recognize that these mistakes are publicly embarrassing to you as elected officials and to the city government as a whole. These errors tend to erode the overall confidence that our citizens have with our government. I personally accept responsibility for the errors and I also want you to know that I will be addressing this issue in a firm and clear manner with our 13 department heads. Mistakes are human and understandable; repeated mistakes on the same issue are unacceptable.


  1. And taxpayers pay this guy $100,000 + a year?? Lmao Becker! Party on!!

  2. A "firm and clear manner". Hmmm, what does that mean exactly? Firm and clear.... Please explain.

  3. Some people will bitch about anything. Obviously, Mr. Hughes does not prepare the agendas and did not make the mistake. He is taking responsibility for fixing problems that have been made by secretarial staff in the past.

    Firm and clear... How about "This kind of mistake will not happen in the future. You will double check your departments agenda items. If this happens again, disciplinary actions will follow"

    That would be a firm and clear way of taking care of this. I'm sure you can think of others. Use your brain a little bit.

  4. I'm sure Sparky will take care of everything.

  5. So Chief Wahlen can't get his facts and figures straight. Hughes can't organize a meeting. No wonder why the city is going downhill!