Tuesday, January 12, 2016
It was cold last night, below freezing outside, but it took the gang of 3plus only a few minutes to warm up and to paraphrase Gloria Taylor; it isn’t political but the Mayor is pushing it so I am against it”
Of the Counsel membership only Rivers and Taylor with one of her rambling often repetitive and sometimes contradictory orations spoke against the inclusion of the resolution on next week’s business agenda.
Before a fully packed Court Room by the gang of 4’s “no” votes, the Council decided 4:3 not to include a resolution that would in essence reverse the recent sneaky BOE action to return the date for its election back to April.
Once again I would submit that in light of transparency as well as public accountability Councilors owe the public an explanation why they are abstaining or voting against an item. Otherwise, one can only come to the conclusion that their motive is just political and without any justifiable reason.
I am not against an action against a resolution, ordinance or any other item by any member of a legislative body which is based on honest conviction and/or factual evidence. In fact that is their fiduciary responsibility, but they should be open not secretive.
A large number of speakers participated pro and con during the public commentary session prior to the introduction of the resolutions and ordinances for approval. All strictly adhered to Council President Storch’s announcement that in fairness to all no extension in the time limit would be granted. Yes there was one exception, Board member John Campbell the last speaker who continued to defend the Board’s action while berating the Mayor despite Storch’s reminder that he had used up his allotted time.
All but one of the BOE members who spoke in defense of their action as being one in the public interest because it removed the political Republican/Democrat overtones of the November election ignored the facts:(1) that the BOE elections occupy a separate spot on the ballot ,(2) that there is no party or “slate” designation or grouping of candidates on the ballot,(3) all had been elected at the November elections (4) All but one had been a member of a slate when elected,(5) That as the only district to switch back to the April date the school system-and the taxpayers- will have to bear the cost of an estimated $115,00.00 for the election.(6) the claim that April is more democratic and in the public’s best interest is false since the voting hours are more restricted then in the general election and historically the turnout is significantly smaller than at the November elections.
In the public comment. Terri Slaughter-Cabbell said the board showed a "total lack of transparency" with the walk-on vote, calling it "a disservice and slap in the face to the community." But Board President Wilma Campbell said it was done in a public meeting. "We have not done anything improper or illegal," she said.
She implied that since the notice for the Board’s Work Session included ‘Action may be taken” was sufficient for legality even though there was no printed mention of the resolution prior to the meeting or even on the session’s agenda. I have been told that there was no printed copy of the resolution available when it was introduced as a “walk on” subject. So much for morality and adherence to the Sunshine laws.
School board attorney Lisa Fitipaldi defended the Board’s right to move the election back according to the State statues which said the BOE could do it after 4 years from the change to November. She continued to remark that the Council was now prohibited to change the Board’s action for another 4 years.
Fitipaldi seemed to be threatening the City about litigation if the Council adopted the proposed resolution.
Corporation Counsel David Minchello said later he "disagreed vehemently" with her. Minchello said there was nothing in the statute to say the date could not be changed after the board's action.
As a stakeholder and a taxpayer I would hope that the Council would disregard its action Monday night and reintroduce the resolution as an add on at its business meeting.
I would also hope that due to the circumstances under which the BOE acted the Corporation Counsel would file for an injunction to delay implementation of the BOE’s change in election date.