Civic watchdogs might be caught unawares on Monday when the gavel comes down for a Sonoma City Council meeting at the Community Meeting Room at 6 p.m. It will be the third city council meeting of the month, and falls under the category of a “special” meeting because Mayor Rachel Hundley has called it under special rules.

Those rules preclude public comment on non-agenda items – frequently a diverting and sometimes important part of a regular council session, usually held at the outset of the meeting before city business. The previous city council meeting, on Wednesday July 19, was also called as a special meeting, to consider the Hotel Project Sonoma EIR.

Highlight of the agenda for next Monday, July 31, will be continued discussion by the Council “on the process used to make appointments and re-appointments to City Commissions and Committees.” That topic was opened earlier this month due to less-than-unanimous appointments and controversial resignations from the Planning Committee.

There are currently at least three potential appointments to be made to the seven-member Planning Commission – two vacant seats, a third for the non-voting alternate, plus a serving commissioner whose term has officially expired.

The nine-member Community Services and Environment Commission also has significant appointments pending: two regular and one alternate seats are vacant, two terms are currently expired and a third will expire in November, and one member has missed three consecutive meetings, and has automatically been removed (though that member has requested a waiver).

City Manager Cathy Capriola has prepared a staff report for the meeting outlining a new appointment process, “using a blend of the Individual Appointment Process, At Large Appointment process and a Revised Mayoral Appointment process,” details of which can be found in the meeting agenda on the city’s website, at sonomacity.civicweb.net/document/6982

Also on Monday’s agenda is discussion and presumed approval of this year’s Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, scheduled for Sept. 23-24. That occasion usually includes a “Blessing of the Grapes” as well as family fun runs, a nighttime parade, and an afternoon festival in the Plaza.

The next regular City Council meeting will be Aug. 21, in the afterglow of the eclipse. Open public comment should be part of that evening’s agenda.