The Palo Alto City Council's practice of waiting until the first business Monday of January to swear in new council members is creating "legal and practical problems" for the city, according to a new memo.
Council members Larry Klein and Greg Schmid say council members should instead be sworn in on the first business day of the month. They will ask the rest of the city council to support the change Monday.
New council members cannot act until they are sworn in, according to the memo, which was released Wednesday. The terms of outgoing council members, meanwhile, end at midnight on Dec. 31.
"By delaying the swearing in until as late as January 8 we run the risk of not having sufficient Council Members on hand to act if an emergency should arise," Klein and Schmid wrote.
The current practice also creates an "unnecessary delay in getting down to business," the memo states.
The mayor, who is selected after council members are sworn in, cannot make appointments until he or she is chosen. Klein and Schmid say this delays appointments until mid-month.
In addition, by devoting the first business Monday to swearing in new council members and appointing a mayor, the city council is losing a day in a month that is already truncated because of the Martin Luther King holiday. The city council holds its meetings on Mondays.
"At the very time when enthusiasm is high -- particularly in years when new people are joining the Council -- we in effect are dawdling," Klein and Schmid wrote.
The memo is the second this year aimed at improving the city council's efficiency.
The earlier memo, which was authored by Mayor Greg Scharff, Council Member Gail Price and Klein, called on council members to accept voluntary changes to reduce the length of meetings, which averaged about five hours last year.
The city council voted unanimously last week to discuss the issue when it meets Saturday to iron out its priorities for the coming year.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Palo Alto City Council is scheduled to discuss a proposal to swear in new council members on the first business day of January.
WHEN: Monday, at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.