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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 28.0° F  Light Snow Fog/Mist
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No more supermajorities for the Madison city council?
Skidmore: 'I don't think the Landmark's Commission should have veto power over the council.'
Skidmore: 'I don't think the Landmark's Commission should have veto power over the council.'

Ald. Paul Skidmore, a proponent of the $93 million Edgewater Hotel expansion project, thinks its well-publicized troubles getting approval from the Landmarks Commission could lead to a needed "sea change" in how committees operate.

"We should treat this the same way we treat all committees and boards. They're advisory to us. And we make the decision," says Skidmore. "I don't think the Landmarks Commission should have veto power over the council."

At present, it requires a supermajority vote of 14 of 20 council members to undo a Landmarks Commission ruling. Skidmore wants to change that - possibly for all city commissions.

"I'm going to work with other people to put together a change in the ordinances," he says. "We would remove the supermajority vote."

City Attorney Michael May says a number of actions require a two-thirds majority vote on the council, including one regarding decisions by the Plan Commission concerning conditional-use permits. And state law requires that a supermajority is needed to overturn some zoning decisions.

Not everybody thinks undercutting the power of city commissions is a smart move.

"Making it easy for council to willy-nilly overrule things devalues the work of the commissions and makes it more likely we'll be less efficient," says Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.

For example, she notes that the Transit and Parking Commission has the power to determine bus routes. "Can you imagine the council having a discussion about how we should move a bus route or how often a bus should run on it?"

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