Friday, November 6, 2015

Discussion of Police Pay Blocked by Mayor

This article continues the prior "Support Our BIPD" article, linked here:
Attend Tonight's Meeting to Support Our BIPD!

If you weren't able to attend the meeting on Tuesday, you may be wondering about the Council's discussion regarding additional compensation for our Belle Isle police officers. Unfortunately, any Council discussion on this matter was completely precluded by the improper actions of Belle Isle Mayor William Brooks and the commissioners who facilitated those actions.

Under our City's meeting procedures, a City Council meeting does not end until a commissioner makes a motion to adjourn. This motion has to be seconded by another commissioner before proceeding to a "voice vote" where commissioners speak their votes in unison. As the meeting chair, the mayor is empowered to decide whether the motion passed based on the voice votes. But if there is any question as to the outcome of this vote, the chair is also responsible for clarifying the vote by performing a "roll call" vote where the commissioners vote one by one.

Unfortunately, that procedure bears little resemblance to what occurred on Tuesday. The draft minutes for the Tuesday meeting (linked below) tell part of the story. At the end of Tuesday's meeting, Commissioner Nielsen stated that she had additional business to discuss. Ignoring her request, Mayor Brooks asked Council for a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Nielsen repeated her request to speak, and was again ignored by Mayor Brooks asking for a motion to adjourn.

Although the meeting had only been underway for about 20 minutes and there was clearly still city business for discussion, Commissioners Van Dyke and Shuck obliged the Mayor, quickly moving and seconding a motion to adjourn. The third time Commissioner Nielsen tried to speak, she was cut off by Mayor Brooks, who stated that there was a motion on the table for adjournment and immediately called for a vote. Within a span of approximately ten seconds, the Council voted, Mayor Brooks stated that the motion passed, and Mayor Brooks and Commissioner Van Dyke disappeared out the door.

The biggest problem in all this? That motion to adjourn did not pass. While three commissioners (Karl Shuck, Larry Ady, and Keith Van Dyke) voted to adjourn, four commissioners (Harvey Readey, Sue Nielsen, Lydia Pisano, and Ed Gold) voted against adjournment. There was no roll call vote, which the mayor was required to call because the vote was too close to discern by voice vote. Any commissioner could have also called for a roll call vote, but in the seconds it took them to comprehend what had happened and realize what needed to be done, the Mayor was already in his Lexus and pulling out of the parking lot.

City Attorney Frank Kruppenbacher commented that he's "never seen anything like this" in his many years of of experience as attorney for numerous local governments and boards.

Although Mayor Brooks, Commissioner Van Dyke, Commissioner Ady, and Commissioner Shuck successfully blocked the rest of the Council from discussing the officer retention problem and its potential solutions, you can learn more about the issue in the channel Channel 9 article and video linked below:

Belle Isle Commissioner Fights for Higher Police Pay - WFTV Channel 9

The City Clerk has posted draft minutes from the Tuesday meeting (linked at the end of the article). The last two paragraphs are of particular note, stating that:

Due to some concerns with the adjournment process, Attorney Kruppenbacher was asked for his opinion on whether the meeting could reconvene. At 7:25pm he stated that Council is not in a noticed meeting and the Sunshine Law is in effect. He read from the Roberts Rules of Order, 11th Edition, Page 48 which reads, “Under all of the voting methods described above except a counted rising vote (or a counted show of hands), the result is determined by the chair’s judgment as to the prevailing side‐which it is his duty, in doubtful cases, to verify beyond reasonable doubt, and to the satisfaction of the members, by the procedures described below.”

Attorney Kruppenbacher said what had just happen was the Chair using his judgment; he heard it passed and the meeting was adjourned by these rules. Attorney Kruppenbacher understands that some of the Council members are stunned, but the Chair adjourned before anyone made a motion to have a call of the vote. He recommends that we open discussion on “adjournment rules” at the upcoming workshop. He stated that we cannot reconvene because it will be starting a new meeting which was not properly posted; in addition we lost another member who was in attendance.

City Council Meeting Minutes - November 3, 2015 (DRAFT)

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