WALLA WALLA — The City Council approved a new ordinance on absenteeism on Wednesday night, but failed to pass any guidelines that would have given members direction in determining what constitutes an excused absence.
Over the past few weeks, members have debated the previous policy, in which absences where automatically approved, sometimes without reason given.
The prolonged absence of Council member Shane Laib while he works temporarily in Olympia during the current Legislative session sparked a debate over which absences should be excused.
On Wednesday, Council approved a new ordinance that reaffirms state law requiring dismissal of a city council member who has three consecutive unexcused absences.
That ordinance passed 5-1, with Laib opposed.
Council member Conrado Cavazos absent.
When it came time to pass guidelines as to what should be considered an excusable absence, Council split 3-3.
Mayor Jim Barrow, Council member Jerry Cummins and Laib voted against setting guidelines and Council members Barbara Clark, Chris Plucker and Mary Lou Jenkins voted for them.
With no majority, the resolution for guidelines failed.
Had it passed, the guidelines would have allowed Council members to be excused for attending other Council business.
Later in the session, when it came time to vote on whether to excuse Cavazos, who was reported to be traveling home to Walla Walla after a family vacation, the vote was 4-2 in favor, with Clark and Jenkins opposed.