By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Petaluma City Council is going to try again to work together.
Tonight, the six council members, at times sharply split and obviously frustrated with each other, will again take up the issue of selecting liaison appointments to regional and local committees.
The first attempt Jan. 3 ended with perceived insults and one council member describing the discord as a “circus.”
In the first meeting of its post-election configuration, the council seemed to be rolling along agreeably until it hit a speed bump on one coveted committee assignment, that of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.
Mayor David Glass had divvied up assignments based on council members’ requests and said he felt his recommendations were fair. He noted that new Councilman Chris Albertson, one of three members of a competing political bloc, got every assignment he asked for, including a seat on the Planning Commission to replace Teresa Barrett.
But when Councilman Mike Harris expressed his desire to be on the SCTA instead of Councilwoman Tiffany Renee, Glass’ political ally, the short-lived cooperative spirit evaporated.
For the past two years, Glass was the SCTA liaison and Renee was his alternate. Harris served on the committee until 2008, when his side fell into the minority and he was replaced by Glass.
Renee, Barrett and Glass became frustrated at what they felt was a lack of compromise on the part of Albertson, Harris and their ally, Mike Healy.
Glass said he and Barrett deferred to others’ committee requests, essentially accepting the “garbage” left over.
The six-member council, which is operating with one seat vacant because of Glass’ election to mayor in the middle of his council term, deadlocked 3-3. Glass said he would start from scratch with appointments, tossing out all the goodwill he and Barrett felt they had offered.
“I offered them not just the olive branch, but the whole olive tree,” he said.
Harris said he didn’t intend to cause dissension with his request.
“I personally supported 20 of (the mayor’s) 21 recommendations and was ready to move forward on those 20 recommendations that night,” he said. “On the SCTA position, I merely wanted to offer myself for the position as I served as the alternate in 2006 and served as the representative in 2007 and 2008 before being voted off by a majority in 2009.”
For tonight’s second attempt, Glass has offered three scenarios.
His first option is to carry over all the 2010 appointments to 2011 except those vacated by former Mayor Pam Torliatt and former Councilman David Rabbitt, who didn’t seek re-election to the council.
That option keeps Glass and Renee on the SCTA and Barrett on the city planning board. He recommended Healy take a seat on a county water advisory committee and Albertson on a local health committee.
Glass’ second option recommends Renee as the SCTA representative and Harris as her alternate, the scenario that triggered the previous conflict.
A third option, Glass said, would be for the council to take separate votes on some or all of the 20 committee appointments.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m.