SD Council President Vote Voided; Term Limit Questions Raised

San Diego's new City Council president chaired her first meeting Monday afternoon.

But her election is still not final -- legally speaking.

More questions surrounding the council's voting process have surfaced after NBC 7 alerted the City Attorney's office last week.

Lightner was elected last Wednesday after private, one-on-one meetings among six council members -- including herself and incumbent Todd Gloria – that we reported the following day.

There was no apparent "majority quorum" violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's open meetings law, but such talks are banned under the act’s "serial meetings" clause.

After early-agenda formalities in the 12th floor council chamber at City Hall Monday, Lightner made the following announcement:

"There have been concerns raised about potential Brown Act violations among councilmembers who may have discussed the council president vote in advance of the hearing last Wednesday. In an abundance of caution, I am calling a special meeting for tomorrow, December 16th at 5:30 p.m. to request a revote on the selection of the council president for 2015."

The city attorney's office tells NBC 7 that a revote will "cure" whatever violations may have occurred, no further fact-finding needed.

But now another question arises from what Lightner told us last Friday -- there's an undercurrent that the council president's job should carry a two-year limit.

"We will certainly be talking about that,” she said in an extended interview. “There are some of my colleagues (who) have already mentioned that it might be good to actually codify this."

"Do you think that's healthy?" she was asked.

"I think that's healthy,” Lighter replied. “I think it affords other council members the opportunity to do special work. We all have different backgrounds. We all have different communities. And to bring forth our special issues or our priorities is pretty important."

Meantime, some of Lightner's critics harbor suspicions that she'll throw more weight behind the four-member Republican bloc on the nine-member council.

Andrew Keatts, who covers City Hall and civic issues for Voice of San Diego, offers this cautionary note: "Really, all the major partisan standoffs that we've had in recent years, she's been on the same side as Todd Gloria -- not with the Republicans.

“She may simply say, 'Well, I have my own policy agenda that I would like to achieve, and if those guys are willing to give me their votes, I'll take them,'” Keatts added. “'I don't owe them anything. What -- are they going to depose me once I'm already there?' She's got two years left in office."

NBC 7 has forwarded to the city attorney documentation of Lighter’s reference to talk among councilmembers about term-limiting the president's job to two years, and questions raised by Twitter followers about the timing and Brown Act implications involved.

“Interesting tweets,” Goldsmith’s communications director Gerry Braun replied in an email, “but nothing in them we would comment on.”

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