District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas will serve another two-year term as president of the Oakland City Council, and District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb will become president pro-tempore (vice president).
Both were elected unanimously and without debate at the council’s first meeting of 2023. Bas also handed out the council’s subject matter committee assignments, which the council approved.
The powers and responsibilities of the council president, president pro-tem, and committee chairs are spelled out in the council’s Rules of Procedure. Bas said at today’s meeting that she’s been working with the City Attorney and City Administrator to make some updates to these rules, which will be discussed at a future meeting. She added that the council plans to return to in-person meetings by March. Like most government agencies, the council moved to virtual meetings when the pandemic began in 2020.
The City Council president’s duties
City Council president is a powerful position. The president chairs the council’s meetings, giving them some discretion over the order in which legislation is heard, the amount of time members of the public are allowed to speak, and other procedures.
The president gets to appoint other councilmembers to their committee assignments, subject to confirmation by the council. The president also picks the chairs for each subject matter committee. The committees, which range from public safety to life enrichment, do the work of shaping legislation before it reaches the full city council for a vote. The chairs of the committees have lots of influence over the kinds of resolutions and ordinances their committee advances.
For regional boards and commissions that Oakland is a part of, the president gets to pick which councilmembers represent the city.
Perhaps the most powerful job the president has is presenting the city budget to the council every two years. While the mayor and administration draft the budget, the council has the final say and can amend the budget any way they see fit.
The president also usually chairs the Rules and Legislation Committee, which has the power to schedule which other subject matter committee a particular piece of legislation is heard at. This means that the rules committee can fast-track legislation or block it from advancing to the full city council and becoming law.
The council president pro-tempore is essentially the vice president and serves as president whenever the president is absent.
Committee assignments shake-up
The City Council unanimously approved the committee assignments proposed by Bas without discussion. They are as follows:
Rules and Legislation
Chair: Nikki Fortunato Bas
Members: Dan Kalb, Carroll Fife, Janani Ramachandran
Finance and Management
Chair: Kevin Jenkins
Members: Rebecca Kaplan, Nikki Fortunato Bas, Janani Ramachandran
Chair: Noel Gallo
Members: Dan Kalb, Treva Reid, Kevin Jenkins
Community and Economic Development
Chair: Dan Kalb
Members: Carroll Fife, Noel Gallo, Kevin Jenkins
Chair: Carroll Fife
Members: Treva Reid, Noel Gallo, Janani Ramachandran
Chair: Rebecca Kaplan
Members: Carroll Fife, Treva Reid, Janani Ramachandran
Chair: Treva Reid
Members: Noel Gallo, Dan Kalb, Rebecca Kaplan
Chair: Rebecca Kaplan
Members: Nikki Fortunato Bas, Carroll Fife, Treva Reid