Originally posted at 9:29 a.m. Oct. 2, 2013.
What goes on behind closed doors at executive sessions of the San Juan Capistrano City Council? We may never know, but apparently, the council isn’t too sure either.
Councilman Roy Byrnes brought up publicly Tuesday night that recently, the council discussed a matter, the outcome of which he interpreted differently than others in the room. He didn’t indicate the topic.
But earlier in the meeting, at the prompting of resident Kim McCarthy, the council and staff discussed when the decision was made to kick out newspaper racks from City Hall, with City Attorney Hans Van Ligten saying no reportable action took place in a closed session, and Byrnes saying he remembered a vote.
“I am disturbed that people at the same meeting have an entirely different view of what happened,” Byrnes said just before the meeting adjourned into another closed session.
To prevent misunderstandings again, he proposed the council look at some way of recording council consensus in closed sessions.
City councils can meet outside public view for only a limited number of reasons, such as to discuss litigation, negotiate with employees or buy and sell property.
“We should have some type of minutes or better record of what our actions or decisions in executive sessions are,” Byrnes said. “We should ask our staff, the city manager and city attorney to bring us some practical way we can more efficiently and safely memorialize what happens in executive sessions.”
Mayor John Taylor agreed to put that item on a future agenda, but Councilman Sam Allevato wasn’t happy about it.
“We’ve been operating this way for 50 years,” he said. “I don’t see why a need for suddenly now we need to do things all that differently.”