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Workshops might be the best for city

The Glencoe City Council decided Monday night to eliminate its committee for indepth discussions of city issues and go to a workshop session.
On first glance, it would seem that the city is simply renaming its committee meetings as workshops. After all, although only three council members can attend committee meetings, all council members can attend the committee meetings and even participate in the discussions.
But there are a couple of subtle differences between a committee meeting and a workshop that might help the City Council build more amiable relationships among its members.
First, while the committees cannot make decisions or set policies, they do have a decision-making role, which is to make recommendations to the full council. That means that after discussion, the committee will vote on whether it recommends specific action by the council.
At a workshop session, no decisions are made. No votes are taken. No recommendations are formally arrived at, although there may be a consensus by discussion as to what direction the council or its administration will take. That makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere (one would hope) for discussion if there is no pressure to come to a decision. Not having to make a decision gives council members the leisure of absorbing the information, taking into consideration their fellow council members’ opinions, and letting the mixture settle a few days before having to vote.
Second, all council members have equal standing at a workshop. Although all council members are welcome to attend committee meetings, only three are authorized to put forth a recommendation. That may make some council members feel as if they are on an uneven playing field with their fellow council members.
Although it’s a break with tradition, going to a workshop format may well be beneficial for the council. (By the way, although there is no action taken at workshops, they are still subject to the open meeting law because there is a quorum of council members present. That means the meetings are open to observation by members of the public).
And if the workshop system doesn’t work out — well, change is always an option. The council can either go back to its traditional committee system, or choose to find a new forum for having its indepth discussions.