Update 6:15 p.m. Only three council members were present for the special meeting: Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Darryl Moore. After brief thanks from the officials to city staff for preparing the meeting, it was canceled for lack of a quorum.
Original story: Two votes scheduled for Thursday night’s special Berkeley City Council meeting, which was just announced Wednesday, may not actually take place due to “insufficient quorum,” according to various reports being circulated online.
The focus of the meeting was supposed to be a compromise related to two competing minimum wage proposals that are slated to be on the November ballot.
A spokesman for the city, Timothy Burroughs, said as of 5:16 p.m. that “There is still a Council meeting scheduled for 6pm.”
City Clerk Mark Numainville confirmed at 5:24 p.m.: “We will not know if the meeting is cancelled for lack of quorum until after the noticed start time.”
At 5 p.m., however, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce sent an email to its members to say the meeting had been canceled — according to Councilman Laurie Capitelli — because not enough council members would be able to attend. The Downtown Berkeley Association, which represents downtown businesses and property owners, sent a nearly identical message several minutes later.
At least five council members need to attend the meeting for any action, such as a vote, to take place. Council members can still reportedly receive public comment, however, even without a quorum.
If there’s no vote, both minimum wage items — one from the SEIU and one from the council majority — will likely appear on the ballot. Both get to $15 an hour but the labor proposal would get there next year, while the council’s proposal would get there in 2019.
Councilman Jesse Arreguín said by email Thursday night that “The meeting is still [scheduled] and will happen, question is how many Council people show up and if we have a quorum. I will be there.”
There have been reports that neither Mayor Tom Bates nor Councilwoman Linda Maio are available to attend the special meeting. They are, according to a statement released by Capitelli, out of town.
According to the Chamber email, Capitelli “also informed us that the City Clerk brought to his attention that introducing the measure tonight would violate the Good Government Ordinance (Section 2.06.070.E.1) of the City and, possibly the Brown Act.”
Capitelli released the following statement at 4:24 p.m. shortly before the cancelation was reported.
The statement came as somewhat of a surprise because multiple statements were released Wednesday touting a minimum wage ordinance compromise that had been achieved in collaboration with the council member. He is running for mayor along with Arreguín, Worthington and other candidates.
Capitelli’s statement appears below in full:
I strongly believe that we need to raise the minimum wage in Berkeley past its current $11 ($12.53 as of October 1, 2016). We need to help working people and combat wage inequality. In 2015, Council crafted a bold and progressive minimum wage measure that proposed raising the minimum wage to $15. Council voted to further speed up the wage schedule in April of 2016 and let the voters weigh in. Even though our initial proposal was one of the most progressive in the nation, an initiative was circulated to raise it higher. I attempted to broker a compromise to unify our community with the caveat that it needed a supermajority on all points. Unfortunately, at this time, the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor, City Manager and City Attorney are out of town for a special meeting regarding the minimum wage. Other Councilmembers have reservations about whether workers, youth and community-serving nonprofits will benefit from the agreement. Others are concerned about equity regarding health care coverage and sick leave. Additionally, there has been less than 3 hours to review the language from the City Attorney for a measure that will affect the lives of thousands. We ran out of time to do our due diligence and analysis required to pass such a complicated and multi-faceted measure. As a result, we don’t believe this is good policy making or democratic. The current Council proposal is amongst the most progressive minimum wage proposals in the entire nation.
According to the agenda materials posted online, officials are also scheduled Thursday night to consider a resolution to correct the ballot measure related to the business license tax on rental units. Only those two items are on the agenda.
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[Editor’s note: The story headline was updated after the meeting cancelation. This story also was corrected shortly after 9 p.m.: The mayor and vice mayor are out of town, as are the city attorney and city manager, according to a statement from Capitelli. This story initially incorrectly reported that they were out of town together at a special meeting related to the minimum wage, but this was due to a misreading of Capitelli’s statement.]