1. The Administration develops a "Proposal".
2. The "Proposal" is presented to County Council by title only, first at the Committee level. At this juncture, typically, there is no document available for review and, more likely than not, members of County Council are as much in the dark as to the details of the "Proposal" as is the public. At the Committee level, during consideration prior to "FIRST READING" there can be discussion of the "Proposal" and votes are taken. This procedure puts the issue "into the record" and sends the "Proposal" forward to the Regular Council meeting for "FIRST READING" where there is no further discussion or vote.
3. The next step is review prior to "SECOND READING" which takes place at the Committee level. At this point, the issue is opened for discussion and the members of Council should have documents as to the content of the "Proposal". But, at this step in the process, it is not unusual that the documents connected to the "Proposal" are yet to be finalized. County Council has to rely upon the administration for accurate and complete information on the issue. After the discussion is complete, a vote is taken. If the vote is positive, the "Proposed Ordinance" moves on to the Full Council. If the vote is negative, the effort dies.
4. The final step is review prior to "THIRD READING" which takes place at the Committee level. As with the last step, the "Proposal" is read, opened for discussion, and voted upon. With a positive vote, the "Proposal" goes forward to Full Council for "THIRD READING". When Full Council votes for the Proposal it becomes County Law. In a perfect world, at this point in the process, not only a legal document but also all supporting information for this "Proposal" would have been provided. But, history has shown this to not always be the case.
The time frame of this process can vary widely. If there is no hurry for the Ordinance, the full process of passage can take as much as three months. The "Proposal" can receive consideration prior to "FIRST READING" at the Committee meeting on the second Monday of a month and "FIRST READING" at the Regular Council meeting the fourth Monday of that same month. "SECOND READING" and "THIRD READING" can be done the month after and the month after that. But, if the issue is pressing, the process can be shortened measurably. "Special" Committee and Full Council meetings can be called to address the issue.
GE&P is cognizant of the fact that an "official" legal document, "THE ORDINANCE", cannot be issued before County Council has had the opportunity to make all desired revisions to the original "Proposal". But, there is no legitimate reason why this administration cannot issue a document containing the details of its "Proposal" prior to "FIRST READING". There is no legitimate reason why the public should not be fully informed on all matters of County government. There is no reason why the public should not know the intent and possible ramifications of all proposed Ordinances.
GE&P is, also, aware that former administrations have followed the same process for the passage of new "ORDINANCES". But, with all due respect, this administration has proven itself to be a horse of a different color. This administration has maneuvered issues through this process without full disclosure to Council. One glaring example of this subterfuge is the Hwy. 311 waterline issue.
Just because "this is the way things have always been done" does not mean it is correct or even acceptable in this new environment. With past administrations, Council could depend upon the fact that all pertinent information on any issue would be provided. Now, not so much.
County Council could correct this situation very easily. If members of Council would make it known to the administration that they would reject, at "FIRST READING", any new proposal that is not accompanied by a publicly available fact sheet, this nonsense would stop. But, don't hold your breath for this to happen. Some members of Council do not have the time to be involved to this degree of specificity connected to the governance of our County and others just do as they are told.