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County squeezed too many people into room

Susan Voyles

5/9/2005 11:42 pm

Reno Fire Department officials said they will issue a notice of violation for crowded conditions in the Washoe County Commission’s caucus room on Monday morning.

In the future, County Manager Katy Singlaub said staffers will be asked to leave when the room is crowded and the room will be wired to allow staff to watch caucus meetings on the Internet. They would attend only when they must speak to issues.

Singlaub said she doesn’t expect the commission will back down from its decision to have caucus sessions in the upstairs conference room.

“That’s a policy decision. The board has reviewed it and they have made their decision,” she said.

More than 55 people squeezed into the room Monday for a briefing on the commission’s agenda. Citizen activist Gary Schmidt asked Roy Slate, Reno Fire Department division chief, if the crowd violated the fire code for room-occupancy standards.

Slate then asked Singlaub to clear the room and she asked county staff to leave. They waited in the hall and returned after a number of animal-rights activists left.

In the meantime, Slate cleared two rows of chairs. He said the room count exceeded at least 50 people. Given the room’s size, he said, it should be limited to about 40 people.

Slate said the notice will ask the county to address occupancy, including posting a limit on the wall. It does not mean the county will be fined or penalized for violating the code.

Schmidt said the fire code is one more reason why county commissioners should have all meetings in commission chambers. When that move was put on the agenda two weeks ago, Commissioner Pete Sferrazza did not get support from other commissioners.

The location of the meetings to review upcoming agendas has been a hot issue since county agendas were rewritten last month to allow commissioners to deliberate issues when reviewing their next day’s agenda.

Copyright © 2006 The Reno Gazette-Journal

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