City council last night went late last night because they had to return to the work session to discuss what Mayor Grenier will say tonight in the council’s name at the SEC hearing. That discussion broke down along predictable lines for a time, until the speech was reduced to language that was amenable to all councilors. It was an interesting debate, one that seemed largely Mayor Grenier versus the former council members.
Not that all the former council members are opposed to Laidlaw. Councilors David Poulin, Tim Cayer and Tom McCue are pretty staunchly opposed, but Councilor Ryan Landry has a more subtle positions: he said he needs more questions to be answered before he can get behind the project.
Councilors Mark Evans and Lucie Remillard are both in favor of the project (or, to more accurately represent Councilor Evans, he doesn’t feel the city has the right to dictate what a private landowner does with their property), but they spoke up against any effort to bowl over the minority opinion. Councilor Evans even objected to the tone Mayor Grenier was using because he said it didn’t convey respect for divergent viewpoints.
Councilor Robert Danderson raised some points in favor of the project, but he also said he had concerns about how either biomass company will survive in the current energy market. He is concerned about the project, he said, but he’s more concerned no development will occur and Berlin will continue on its downward slide.
Councilor Rozak largely kept his mouth closed. He only commented that he would like to see a sheet listing the jobs and corresponding salaries Laidlaw will offer, and that he wanted to hear the council’s opinion on the revised language of the speech. He did not get caught up in the discussion, particularly when it got heated.
The exchange got my 600 words my writeup about council this week, so if you want more pick up the Reporter. What I found interesting about the night was a few hours earlier. During some routine business Councilors Cayer, Landry, McCue and Poulin voted in opposition to removing a resolution from the table. They then voted in opposition to killing the resolution. The resolution was for a grant for a local agency that withdrew their request, so I’m not exactly sure why this happened. Then, a few resolutions later, Councilors Landry, McCue and Poulin voted against another resolution. This one I could understand the opposition, but understand that every other vote was unanimous last night, and there were perhaps 30 votes.
I’m going to try to find out what’s going on. It seemed to me an opposition coalition was forming last night, but that may be completely wrong. It was an interesting chain of events, however, and hopefully I’ll be able to explain it better in the coming weeks.