On Monday April 13, at approximately 3:00 PM Preston Allen, the chair of the Board of Supervisors, notified his fellow supervisors that there would be a specially convened board meeting on Friday. Given the restrictions on gatherings and social distancing it is not clear where or how this meeting will be convened.
Now it may seem odd that he would call for a special meeting on Friday when he canceled the regular monthly meeting that should have convened on Tuesday. Why should two business days matter?
The answer is that a specially called meeting is limited to the agenda accompanying the notification. Chairman Allen most definitely has a very limited meeting planned. Aside from some routine matters, the only other items on the agenda are:
- Suspension of Rule 1. Rule 1 requires the convening of a regular monthly meeting of the full board. Having already removed the April meeting from the calendar on the county website, I guess he now believes he needs the approval of the full Board of Supervisors to cancel the meeting.
- The establishment of an additional special committee of the Board of Supervisors to oversee the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is certain method to this craziness. A specially called meeting can only address items on the agenda as specified in the notice. As noted in my last post, Chairman Allen has already selected the members of the proposed new COVID committee and the majority is loyal to him. So it appears he hopes to both establish his hand picked committee and call out of order any attempt to take action that would undo the mess of the last month.
In the meantime, to add to the confusion, there is no proposed action item on the agenda to revoke the authority of the “special” (it has no name) committee empowered to determine staffing and raises. As readers may recall, the committee is made up of three supervisors, county administer Spencer Hellwig, and Human Resources Director Marcy McNamara. So Chairman Allen’s newly proposed committee appears to be an additional layer of impotent bureaucracy. It has no real power to do anything as the actual power remains with the “special” committee.
There is a glaring problem with this strategy. Adopting motions are based on a weighted vote where the representatives of the larger municipalities enjoy a wide margin. It is unlikely he can pass either of these two items. Convening a meeting knowing that it is unlikely he has the votes to approve his resolutions seems to be just another example of the general incompetence of his faction.
It would normally be logical that if the Board refused to suspend rule 1, then Chairman Allen would be compelled to convene the regular meeting the following Tuesday at which time he would lose control of the agenda. This of course assumes that the county adheres to proper procedure. The track record in this regard is not encouraging. It will be interesting to see how this drama plays out.
Making things even more interesting, is the status of the illusive agenda meeting. The meeting which normally meets on the Wednesday the week before the regular Board meeting has disappeared from the county’s calendar. As Rule 1 has not been suspended, the Board of Supervisors rules of order require that it be convened. Representatives from the larger municipalities have indicated they plan to show up for the mystery event.
Wendy Liberatore has a good story covering a “Zoom” meeting held by the dissident Supervisors that was open to the press and addressed all this.
She sought a comment from Chairman Allen who did not return her call but the public relations firm hired by the County did with a bland email statement. It kind of adds insult to injury that the taxpayer should have to pay for someone to answer questions put to the County’s elected officials.