City council close to eliminating "rehearsal votes"

La Crosse

Published On: Sep 12 2012 08:58:48 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 12 2012 10:57:11 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

La Crosse's city council is close to doing away with so-called rehearsal votes. That's because on Tuesday, the Committee of the Whole voted to dissolve itself.

The decision, of course, is not final until the full council votes on the issue Thursday night. That quirk is why some think a change is long overdue.

"I have a tough time understanding why there are two votes so I suspect the (public does too)," said council member Doug Happel.

Happel is among the majority who voted Tuesday in favor of changing how it works. He says the current process of meeting first on Tuesday and then again on Thursday is not efficient.

"Even after the council votes at the Committee of the Whole, it's not a final vote. That's just kind of a warm-up if you will," said Happel.

Those who want to keep the status quo point to the sometimes high turnout at Committee of the Whole. They say lots of people like to come for the public hearing portion of the meetings.

"Just for the sake of the public hearings and continuity, I felt maybe getting rid of Committee of the Whole maybe wasn't the best idea," said council member Paul Medinger.

Medinger says he's not strongly opposed to ending the Tuesday meetings but he does worry it will reduce the amount of public input.

"That's where the public is more involved and we have more of the discussion and debate. that's why I think that's where we have our most productive debates," said Medinger.

Happel says the proposal would move the public hearing portion to the Thursday council meetings. Although, it would require the approval of five council members each time to happen.

"I think this is actually going to help city government and I do believe it will actually help people make their voice heard," said Happel.

The council will also vote Thursday on whether to dissolve the Highways, Properties and Utilities Committee.

If passed, the changes will take effect next April.