TUESDAY, Jan. 17— The third time is, apparently, not the charm for the Lansing City Council.
The drawn-out battle over who will preside this year may require the intervention of a trained facilitator or mediator, City Clerk Chris Swope suggested to the sharply divided body Tuesday night after it failed again to elect a president and vice president.
“It’s clear we’re not going to reach a consensus,” Swope declared nearly an hour and 40 minutes after the body was gaveled into session. He noted the Council has met three times and has voted “nearly a dozen times” but consistently deadlocked. He also noted that the body had been offered perhaps “as many as” 30 different leadership slates, many of which failed because one or both Councilmembers who were nominated declined to accept.
“I toyed with the idea of suggesting a moderator,” Swope said. “I’m not sure how much it would help.”
While the Council can address some city business while continuing its organizational meeting, it is running up against a hard deadline, Swope and City Attorney Jim Smiertka said. The City Charter requires that the Council elect its leadership before the end of January.
In addition, Swope said if the body continues to operate as it has been,it would run into some dicey legal issues regardingthe scheduling of public hearings.
The Council agreed to reconvene at 5:30 p.m.Monday and go into a closed session. There the body will hear a legal opinion from Smiertka on what the leadership impasse could mean legally for Council operations.
At-large Councilwomen Patricia Spitzley and Kathie Dunbarjoined with Second Ward Councilwoman Tina Houghton and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Jessica Yorko to issue a press release Tuesday night as well.
“We’ve got to stop all this electioneering and get back to work,” said Yorko, “Councilmember Spitzley works well with all members of council and administration and is free of past and present conflicts that would incline her to use the presidency as a platform for political ambitions. The discussions this week have revealed that, unfortunately, we don’t have a majority of this body willing to accept that option.”
Spitzley was not nominated Tuesday night, but Yorko was for president, with Houghton, Spitzley and Dunbar supporting her. Third Ward Councilman Adam Hussain, First Ward Councilwoman Jody Washingtonand At-Large Councilwomen Judi Brown Clarke and Carol Wood opposed Yorko’s nomination and the bid failed, 4-4.