Aug 14, 2020

General Government City Council

October 03, 2018
Meetings & Notices

October 3, 2018

The General Government Committee will hold a meeting Wednesday October 3, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

1. Approval of the minutes
2. Changes to the Public Arts Commission Ordinance;Powers and Duties section.

Eric Buddington,
Chairman General Government Committee


General Government Commitee, North Adams City Council October 3, 2018 5:00 pm, Council chambers
Members present:
• Eric Buddington, chair
• Rebbecca Cohen
• Paul Hopkins Also present:
• Jason LaForest, City Councilor
Eric Buddington chaired the meeting and took minutes. The meeting was called to order at 5:02 pm.
MOTION by Councilor Cohen to approve the minutes of the September 10 meeting, SECONDED by Councilor Hopkins, APPROVED unanimously.
Councilor Buddington asked for comments regarding the Powers and Duties section of the Public Arts Commission (PAC) ordinance.
Councilor LaForest stated that the City hasn’t followed the current PAC ordinance, and is reacting to complaints about one particular installation. He believes the original ordinance was poorly written.
Councilor LaForest further noted the tradition of a strong mayor and weak council, but argued that the Council has legislative powers granted by the state and charter that it can use and make specific in ordinances. The Mayor’s proposed changes to the PAC ordinance take power from the Council, contrary to the intent of state law, City charter, and ordinances. The original wording delegated some of the Council’s authority to the PAC.

Councilor LaForest noted the passage and veto process for ordinances, and suggested that the Council should retain simiar power regarding art installations when not approved by the Mayor. He suggested that contracts and applications be initially filed with the Clerk, then go to the PAC and Mayor in the proper order.
Councilor Cohen asked if the Clerk had been asked about this possibility, and whether it would result in much extra work. Councilor LaForest agreed that this is a valid concern, but had not asked the Clerk. He noted that with the Marshall St. pillar art, there was no paper trail; passing this through the Clerk’s office would create a record.
Councilor Buddington suggested that the City has sometimes followed tradition rather than the letter of the law.
Councilor Hopkins noted that Councilor Buddington’s proposal does not include any role for the Mayor.
Buddington noted that his proposal removes the time limit for the PAC to act on an application. Councilor Cohen asked if Councilor LaForest’s
30-day windows was too short for the PAC to act. Councilor LaForest siad that it was adequate, and the problem is that the PAC does not meet regularly.
Councilor Cohen noted that the mayor’s 30-day limit (in the LaForest proposal) doesn’t have an explicit start time.
Buddington wanted language to specify what happens if either time limit expires.
Councilor LaForest stated that the PAC refused to take up the issue of the pillars.
Councilor Cohen wanted to ensure consistency of style within the ordinance, and between ordinance.
Buddington noted that the LaForest proposal does not cover art overhanging a public way, which is in the current ordinance. He questioned whether cemeteries need to be exempted from regulation if gravesites are effectively not City property.
Councilor Cohen approved of the list of covered artwork in Buddington’s proposal, and agreed that the word “acquire” could cover both gifts and

Buddington suggested changing “shall” to “must” or “will”
Councilor Cohen asked about the difference between application and contract. Buddington replied that the application comes first, and the contract provides the details after the application is approved. Councilor Cohen asked if the application would go to the Mayor, or just the contract. She expressed concern that the language would encourage applicants to negotiate with the Mayor first, before applying to the PAC.
Councilors LaForest and Cohen agreed that all boards should get training. Councilor Cohen added that members should get a cope of the founding ordinance.
Councilor Cohen stated that the mayor’s veto should be on the contract, not the application.
Buddington noted that the LaForest proposal doesn’t give the PAC contracting authority.
Councilors LaForest and Cohen agreed that Mayor should be contracting authority, not the PAC. Councilor Cohen suggested that if the commissioners sign a contract, they might be legally liable.
LaForst stated that in his proposal, the mayor could refuse to sign contract, but the Council could override.
Councilor Cohen agreed to forward a question to the solicitor for clarification of a commission’s contracting authority under the charter.
Buddington agreed to apply the changes discussed to merge the Buddington and LaForest proposals.
MOTION to adjourn by Councilor Hopkins. SECONDED by Councilor Cohen, APPROVED unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 6:04pm.