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How Will Shaw's Army Duty Affect the City Council?

The council will be a four-person operation unless members appoint a proxy to fill Councilman Clarence Shaw's seat.

The for a U.S. Army Reserves deployment will require the City Council to operate with four members for up to a year unless they choose to appoint a proxy, the city attorney said Wednesday.

California law allows councils to appoint a caretaker when a military deployment vacates a seat, City Attorney Craig Steele said. That is rarely done, however, because the provision is usually reserved for officials who hold full-time positions, Steele said.

"That's more often used when somebody's a full-time elected mayor or elected manager that has day-to-day duties," Steele said. "It would be unusual for it to happen in this kind of situation."

Under state law, Shaw is entitled to retain his seat for the duration of his deployment as long as his term doesn't end, Steele said. He will also collect his usual city pay and benefits, he said.

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Unless the council appoints a proxy, it will operate with four members while Shaw is gone. Ordinances will still need three votes to pass, so a 2-2 tie would fail to advance proposed laws.

Steele noted that the council often operates with fewer than five members when conflicts of interest arrise and members have to excuse themselves.

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