After the Sept. 4 City Council meeting, a few Northfield residents said they wanted a policy statement against the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Act to be brought in front of the council.

Mayor Mary Rossing said she wants the public to know how they can do something like that.

At last Tuesday’s city council work session, Rossing presented a memo to council members and the city administrator on the process of putting things on the agenda, a follow-up to the Sept. 4 council decision to postpone indefinitely a policy that would have restricted policy statements to municipal, city-related issues.

Rossing said at the session that she wanted to “make sure that the public knows there’s another method to bring things forward.”

And that’s through a council member.

For new things to be added to the council agenda and to be considered for approval, the memo said, the item must be requested by staff or council members, include supporting documents and information, and answer these questions: “How does this fit with council goals?” and “Why should this item be included at this time?”

“It is my intent to help individual council members be successful,” Rossing wrote in the memo. “It is not my intent to force any council members to take a public position on any items they may not view directly related to the business of the city.”

During a meeting, a council member can make a motion to put something on the next agenda and another member must second the motion. Then, the council votes on that motion.

At the session, Council Member Patrick Ganey said that when a member seconds a motion, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she agrees with a particular policy statement, but it says, “I’m willing to talk about it.”

The current process “doesn’t require [municipal] to be defined subjectively,” Ganey said. So, what’s considered city-related is open for interpretation.

Council Member Rhonda Pownell said in the meeting that “this has been in place always” and the memo on the parliamentary procedure is “just spelling it out.”

Reach reporter Kaitlyn Walsh at 645-1117.

Reach reporter Kaitlyn Walsh at 645-1117.

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