Today was a bit of a strange day as a result of the crazy weather. Instead of my normal Monday routine in Berlin I got rained out, only to go to council and put in almost a full day there. Councilors were discussing the rules and policies, which wound up taking nearly three hours. I got home at 11 p.m. and spent another hour writing up the story so it can show up in Wednesday’s paper.
It was quite a show to watch the remnants of the old council and the new members work together. Councilors Robert Danderson, Micheal Rozak and Mayor Paul Grenier dominated much of the conversation early in the night, which pertained to bridge maintenance and sewer construction. Councilor Mark Evans made his mark during the policies discussion, which lasted for several hours.
But then at the end, when Councilor Danderson said he’d like to have one of the councilors who supported writing a letter to the Site Evaluation Committee regarding Clean Power Development rescind their support, the councilors spoke largely in unison. Councilor Lucie Remillard, who I have not noticed to be particularly attached to either the CPD or the Laidlaw camp, said she didn’t want to do anything that might disrupt CPD’s efforts, though the council shouldn’t fight their battles for them. Councilor Evans and Poulin didn’t speak up in favor of supporting CPD’s efforts to move forward without SEC review, but Councilors McCue, Landry, Cayer and Remillard did.
In the end, so did Mayor Grenier. He said he had concerns about the project, but to try to stop it at this point would send an anti-business message around the state.
This is an interesting time for the council—significant transitions all over the place. Mayor Grenier seems intent on running a tight ship, which appealed to several councilors from the last administration. He also made what seemed like deliberate attempts to extend the olive branch. I’m not sure if his comments about CPD count as the latter, or if, as he said, he reached some agreement with Mel Liston of CPD when the two men met on Sunday.
Regardless, I’m interested to see how this plays out. As Councilor Evans said, the clarification of the new rules may be useful when the council gets down to business because there may be a number of close decisions. Keeping to the rules will be key to ensuring residents get the governance they voted for.
LPJ is also on its next step, and I’m hoping it’s a step upwards. I started the blog because I knew I’d need to have one if I ever want a job somewhere else. I don’t want a job somewhere else, but someday I will and now is the time to prepare. Well, the next step after a blog (and a Twitter account) is a website. Check. Granted, I’ve still got more work to do, but it’s passable. I particularly like the header—it reminds me of this great place I go from time to time.
2 thoughts on “A day of it”
I have to give Paul Grenier and all councilors credit last night for staying awake and a very professional meeting that wasn’t the most exciting meeting but certainly laid the ground for policy and procedure relative to Robert’s rule of order that the council follows to keep order within council meetings and to define what actions are right, what actions are wrong. I came out of that meeting with a thought that has been bothering me since and would appreciate some feedback.
I quickly began research on the computer regarding a subject that both Councilor Danderson and Mayor Grenier touched on regarding “financial conflicts that would cause a member of a organization to recuse him or herself from discussion and/or vote. For example, if a councilor has a spouse working in the school, it would be a conflict of interest and ethics for the councilor to vote on a pay raise for his spouse. That seems sensible enough. So what about a councilor who has a financial interest in Laidlaw stock value as a result of investing in Laidlaw stock? Could that be construed as a conflict or ethics violation in decision making and voting? What if we knew that Mayor Grenier owned Laidlaw stock and wanted to fire the attorney that we’ve budgeting $100,000 to intervene on the Laidlaw application? Would we question a conflict? His ethics? What if councilor Danderson asked a council member to change their mind on their stand against having Clean Power go through the SEC process, and we knew Danderson was vested in Laidlaw stock? Would we question his ethics? Wonder about conflict? Danderson tried just that last night. The question becomes; Are we already testing Robert’s rules in our very first council session? With something as large as Laidlaw’s impact on this area, is it important not to have a tainted council? Lastly, how can we follow Robert’s rules of law most of time but ignore them as they relate to Laidlaw?
It’s interesting to note that financial records of committee members and/or council members have been required to be presented in order for ethics violations, or conflicts of interest to be scrutinized when issues hit close to home such as Laidlaw does. It will be interesting to see how the council judges potential Laidlaw stock investments as they relate to Robert’s rules that the council strictly adheres to.
“disqualified from discussion and action on an item due to conflict of interest the … reason to know he or she has a financial interest (Government Code Section …. Robert’s Rules of Order will be used as a guide)”
Grenier, Rozak, Danders: The three stoges of Berlin City Government.