Post #404: Consent agenda

Posted on October 1, 2019

I discussed the “consent agenda” concept in Post #388.  Instead of passing minor routine non-controversial business items individually, efficient governments package them into a single item (the “consent agenda”).  Passing that one item is deemed to have passed each of those individual items of business.

Vienna does not currently use the consent agenda approach.  Councilman Majdi proposed using it as a much-needed time saver for Town Council meetings.

I’m going to do 15 minutes of Google search to determine which governments around here use a consent agenda.   Is it a rarity or is it the norm? 

Answer:  Everyone uses it.  Except the Town of Vienna.  I can’t find a single local government entity that doesn’t use it.  Except the Town of Vienna.  Why Vienna can’t/won’t adopt this approach, I have no clue.

At the most recent Town Council work session, there was a suggestion to start the meetings half an hour earlier, in response to the long meeting times.  They would consider that, but they won’t consider using a consent agenda?  Or adopting any other time efficiency measures?  I’m sorry to have to say it, but the only word I can think to describe that is nuts.  It’s nuts to see that every other local government entity in this area uses this approach, as a time saver, but the Town of Vienna will not even consider it.

So I’m putting this one in the same category as the hundred-day rule.   It’s a goofy and dysfunctional practice that is unique to Town of Vienna government, and puts our government practices at odds with more-or-less every other government entity in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Here’s what I found, in alphabetical order, local government bodies that use the consent agenda method for passing minor routine business:

Alexandria City (reference, .pdf)

Alexandria City transportation board (reference)

Alexandria City School Board (reference, .pdf)

Alexandria City Planning Commission (reference, .pdf)

Arlington County (reference)

Falls Church (reference, .pdf)

Fairfax City (reference).

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors uses the term “administrative items”, but it serves the same function — a large number of routine business items passed with a single vote.  See, e.g., reference, .pdf).

Fairfax County School Board (reference)

Herndon, Town of  (reference, .pdf).

Prince William County (reference)

Leesburg, Town of (reference)

Loudoun County (reference)

Manassas City (reference, .pdf)

Manassas Park City (reference)

Stafford County (reference, .pdf)

I don’t mean this list to be exhaustive.  This is just what I found with 15 minutes of searching.