Wednesday, September 03, 2014

September 3, 2014 City Council's Super Short Meeting; Chesney and the Sunshine Law

The Morristown City Council met yesterday, and it was over almost as quickly as it began.

If you blinked, you pretty much missed the meeting.

But don't worry. You didn't miss much.
A truck was purchased and some outdated language in the sign ordinance was deleted.

In the work session that followed the meeting, Parks and Rec Director Craig Price presented information on a playground for Wayne Hansard Park on the west end of the City.

The work session is where information is shared and items are discussed but no votes are taken.

During Price's presentation, however, Councilmember Paul LeBel decided to request a "show of hands" in support of the proposal.

This isn't the first time, LeBel has requested a "show of hands" at a meeting or work session.

LeBel requested a "show of hands" from councilmembers who would support CPA Glenn Thompson's appointment to the MUS Board at a council meeting in July. 

Six hands went up. LeBel's "raise your hands" vote came just two weeks after Councilmember Chesney announced on his Facebook page ( that Thompson was the "consensus" of a majority of councilmembers.

How Chesney knew that a majority of councilmembers were in favor of Thompson raised the question of whether Chesney had been discussing the vote on the MUS appointment with fellow councilmembers in violation of the state "Sunshine" law that requires that all deliberations on public business occur in public.

Other posts by Chesney on the recent MUS appointment process also hint at possible "Sunshine" law violations.

In a recent (August 27) post, Chesney denied any Sunshine Law violations and said he got his information about councilmembers' preference for Thompson from MUS Board members and not from other councilmembers.

A little more information would clarify whether there was, in fact, any Sunshine violation.

Which MUS Board members discussed a possible Glenn Thompson appointment with Chesney? 

Who brought up Glenn Thompson's name? Chesney? Or the Board member(s)?

Who did Chesney talk to in order to get a "count" showing that a majority of council supported Thompson?

Who did the MUS Board member(s) talk to in order to get a "count" showing that a majority of council supported Thompson?

Was someone taking a "count" for Chesney in order to try and prevent a Sunshine violation by Chesney? 

Oh--and Gary decided to delete his post of July 2 that mentioned that a majority of council supported Thompson. Why?

To help Gary's recollection of his July 2 post, Attorney Link Gibbons re-posted Gary's July 2 entry as part of Gibbons'  "comments" on Chesney's August 27 post.

Link Gibbons Gary, I assume I am the concerned citizen you are addressing above regarding a possible violation of the Sunshine Law as I questioned how you seem to have knowledge of other council members' votes before the issue is addressed publicly. I also specifically asked how you knew a "majority" of council members' preference for Glenn Thompson for the MUS board as stated in the last paragraph of your July 2nd facebook post, some two weeks before the informal show of hands at council's July 16th meeting. Since this post appears to have been deleted from your facebook feed, I will repost it in full for your recollection:

COUNCIL REPORT: The Industrial Development Board (IDB) is good-to-go with a complete set of members, but the Morristown Utilities System (MUS) Commission has work to do.

Tuesday's Council meeting saw Dr. Jack Campbell, Tim Coley, Joel Hice, and Andy Smith reappointed to six year terms on the IDB. Terry Ball's term was also expiring but he withdrew his name from reappointment consideration after legal research determined Ball's recent appointment to the city's Planning Commission made him ineligible to also serve on the IDB.

IDB nominations traditionally come from the Chamber of Commerce, however, Council can make its own nominations - and did, by voting in local building contractor Ed Hale. The vote was 6-1 with Mayor Thomas dissenting.

Raul Rangel will fill another IDB slot created when banker Jennifer Schuchart vacated. The 15 board members are required to be city property owners. It was recently discovered three did not which delayed the reappointments by two weeks while corrections were made.

The vacancy on the MUS Commission will remain empty a while longer. Mayor Thomas nominated Max Biery from the three names served up for consideration by MUS. Council voted 6-1 against. The process repeats with three new names at either at the next meeting, or could be delayed until the first August meeting.

CPA Glenn Thompson appears to be the preference of the majority of Council members.

No comments: