WALLA WALLA — City Council members who missed recent meetings are off the hook, temporarily, as the city continues to work on a new absenteeism policy for its paid elected officials.
The absenteeism issue started earlier this month when Council Member Shane Laib’s absence due to other temporary employment resulted in the first unexcused absence for Laib, as well as for Council Members Jerry Cummins and Conrado Cavazos, who were also absent from the Feb. 13 meeting.
Exacerbating the issue is a combination of state law and city ordinances that call for Council members to be removed from their positions if they have three consecutive unexcused absences.
The issue has posed a problem for Laib, who is working for Sen. Michael Baumgartner’s office on the west side during the current legislative session.
On Wednesday night, Council debated the formulation of a new policy that would excuse absences from a regular City Council meeting for sickness or attending other Council-related functions.
The sticking points for the new policy were vacations, other employment and whether both should be valid reasons for excused absences.
Council is expected to review a final draft of the proposed policy at its next meeting March 13.
The Council technically has no policy at this point, so members voted unanimously on Wednesday night to excuse Laib and Cavazos for missing that meeting.
They also voted to excuse Laib, Cavazos and Cummins from missing the previous meeting, with Cummins abstaining from the vote.