Kids in the Hall

By Andy Balaskovitz

Boles, Brown Clarke will lead the Council in 2014; committee assignments announced. Bernero: ‘Is the old factionalism dead? That’s my hope.’

This story was updated on Jan. 14 to include the full list of committee assignments.

Monday, Jan. 13 — In marked contrast to the past two years of drawn out, contentious votes to elect City Council leadership, it took the Council less than five minutes tonight to install Councilwoman A’Lynne Boles as president and newcomer Judi Brown Clarke as vice president.

You’ve gotta be able to count to five, as they say, and tonight’s vote was a signal that a behind-the-scenes deal was worked out before the meeting. (Boles even came prepared with committee assignments. More on that below.)

Following a Committee of the Whole session in which the votes were split 5-3, the full Council voted unanimously for Boles as president — a role in which she served in 2010 and 2011 — and Brown Clarke as vice president, a rare move for someone with no Council experience.

In committee, Council members Kathie Dunbar, Jessica Yorko and Tina Houghton voted against Boles and Brown Clarke.

Following an inauguration ceremony at the Lansing Center before the Council meeting, Mayor Virg Bernero hoped that the leadership team would be a sign of a “spirit” of cooperation.

“Is the old factionalism dead? That’s my hope,” Bernero said, who backed Brown Clarke in the November election in which she unseated 10-year Councilman Brian Jeffries. “Is there a new spirit, new resolve on the Council that we’re one team? That’s been the verbiage. I hope a majority of Council members get that.”

(Bernero was speculating on a City Pulse story from Friday in which sources said Boles and Brown Clarke would lead. “It ain’t over yet,” he gave as a disclaimer before the meeting.)

At the end of tonight’s meeting — “In anticipation there might be the chance that I’m sitting in this seat” — Boles unveiled committee assignments as well.

All eight Council members are chairing a committee. Per City Charter rules, Boles chairs the Committee of the Whole and Brown Clarke chairs the Personnel Committee.

Quinney chairs Development and Planning, which handles major development projects and tax abatement requests that go through the Council, among other issues. Washington and Houghton are also on Development and Planning.

Dunbar chairs the Public Service Committee after a year in which she was not given a committee chairmanship from Wood, who was Council president last year.

“I’d like to start the year on a footnote and build from here that assignments were made to be equitable and balanced,” Boles said from the dais.

Here's the full list of committee assignments:

Development and Planning: Quinney (chair), Washington, Houghton

General Services: Yorko (chair), Wood, Washington

Intergovernmental Relations: Houghton (chair), Dunbar, Yorko

Public Safety: Washington (chair), Yorko, Brown Clarke

Public Services: Dunbar (chair), Quinney, Boles

Ways and Means: Wood (chair), Houghton, Quinney

Personnel: Brown Clarke (chair), Boles, Dunbar, Wood