Just like a pair of opposing defensemen dropping the gloves at the blow of the whistle, some members of Bay Bulls council were at odds with one another in the first moments of the November 10 meeting.
The trouble started with a motion to adopt the minutes of the special council meeting of October 20.
Typically, the call to adopt the minutes of the previous meeting only lasts for as long as it takes all councillors to say ‘yea,’ unless a councillor has a particular concern with how a minute was recorded.
As would be the case in this meeting.
“I was wondering, who wrote these minutes? And were they recorded?” asked councillor Joan Luby.
“Who?” asked mayor Harold Mullowney, to which Luby asked again who wrote the minutes and if they had been recorded.
“Yes, we have them here,” said Mullowney.
Luby then asked who wrote the minutes.
Assistant Town Clerk Ashley Wakeham then put forward that she wrote the minutes.
Luby then noted that during the special meeting, she had wanted to reject the tender, which had been for snow clearing, and had discussed that the hourly rates were double of what she thought they should have been. She wanted the minutes to reflect the discussion and her thoughts on the tender.
Deputy Mayor Wendy O’ Driscoll noted the minutes were a reflection of the decisions made, not necessarily every point made in the discussion.
“Well, the public should now about it,”said Luby. “And I feel that…”
At this point, O’ Driscoll noted again that it hadn’t been recorded, to which Luby said, “I’m speaking, not you, Wendy.”
Wakeham pointed out that Luby had not asked for the discussion to be recorded verbatim, and that the minutes did show that she was against the motion.
Luby replied that she wanted her comments publicly documented, and requested an amendment to the minutes.
As explained by Town Manager Jennifer Aspell, the amendment would show that Luby was against the awarding of the tender, and was concerned about the prices submitted.
“The prices were double the hourly rate. And I wanted to re-tender it,” said Luby.
She added that in an e-mail, Mullowney had said there was no time to re-tender, which he agreed with.
A motion to amend the minute was put forward, and could have easily been seconded and voted on.
However, after the motion was put forward, and Mullowney called for someone to second it, he received only dead silence. He called again for a seconder, and again, silence. Her called a third time, and again, nothing.
With that, the motion died on the floor, and the motion was made to adopt the minutes as they were.
Luby alone voted against the motion to adopt the minutes, and they were adopted. (The Irish Loop Post requested the snow clearing tender price from Bay Bulls but did not receive a reply by publication date.)
Council then ran into trouble with the next item, a variance application for Northside Road.
Councillor Eric Maloney declared himself in conflict, while councillor Patrick Coady asked council if he was in conflict. O’ Driscoll said that she felt that Coady was not in conflict, but due to a muffled phone connection, had to repeat the point several times.
Luby asked why O’Driscoll why she felt Coady was not in conflict, to which O’ Driscoll said that there was no financial gain on Coady’s part. O’Driscoll put the motion forward, but because Mullowney could not second the motion, unless he vacated the chair, and because Maloney had already declared conflict, and because Coady was the subject of the vote, and because O’Driscoll had made the motion, Luby was the only councillor who could second the motion.
She did not.
“Are you seconding that Joan?” asked Mullowney.
“I’m not seconding it,” said Luby.
“Say again?’ asked Mullowney.
“Nope!” said Luby.
Coady could have declared himself not in conflict, rather than ask council to vote on it, but said he would prefer to stay on the safe side, and declared himself in conflict.
With that, the motion went forward with Coady and Maloney in conflict, and the motion was approved.
With the variance application dealt with, council moved onto the next item, a home at the same address on Northside Road.
Again, as Maloney and Coady declared conflict, and because Mullowney cannot, as mayor, make or second motions, Luby was the only councillor who could second it.
She did not second the motion, but instead asked for a deferral.
O’ Driscoll asked on what basis she was requesting a deferral.
Luby said that she wanted more information about the location of the home, especially as it related to the power line.
Aspell noted that the Town Planner had already put his stamp of approval on the application.
O’Driscoll amended the motion to clarify that there would be no encroachment on the powerline easement.
The motion was met with silence, and was reread by Wakeham.
The application was discussed further, with Aspell noting at one point the powerline encroachment was covered by the Service NL application.
Mullowney then asked Luby if she was going to second the motion.
“Nope,” she said.
“You’re not seconding the motion?”
“You’re going against the recommendation of our planner?”
Luby explained that she wasn’t going against the motion, per say, but that she simply wanted more information. “He should get a survey and plot out exactly where the house is going to be,” she said.
“We have not required that in the past, Joan,” said Mullowney. “So, what are you saying?”
“I’m saying nothing,” replied Luby.
“Okay, so, the motion dies,” said Mulowney.
The next application, one for a salon and spa on Island Cove Road, another for backfill and excavation on Island Cove Road, and a Crown Land subdivision on the Southern Shore Highway, were approved speedily and with little discussion, but council again ran into trouble on the next agenda item: accounts payable.
Luby asked about a number of itemized bills, listing off several numbered items.
For the first item, Luby said she hadn’t received any information.
“We have discussed this several times, and you have plenty of info,” said O’ Driscoll.
Luby said that she had asked for information, but had not received it, and would thus not be voting. “I’m not voting on nothing If I don’t know what I’m voting on,” said Luby. “I haven’t got the information. And I don’t know what DRA 7 and DRA 8 are either.”
Wakeham explained that it stood for Development Recommendation Amendment, and that the payment was for the Town Planner.
Luby then asked about further about the bills, which Aspell explained were for rezoning and an amendment to the municipal plan for agricultural use.
Later, Aspell noted that DRA 7 was actually in regard to fire hydrants in subdivisions, which had been deferred.
Aspell asked what further information Luby required, to which Luby replied, “I’m after writing e-mails, you know what information I want. I want all the information on the bills.”
Wakeham then said that earlier in the day, she had told Luby that she could come down to the Town Hall to view the bills; Luby did not.
Again, Luby reiterated that she would not be voting on the bills as she did not have the proper information.
“Joan, this is putting you in a weird position here, you’re not supposed to abstain from the vote,” said Mullowney.
“I’m not abstaining, but I have no information on it,” argued Luby.
“By abstaining your vote, you could lose your seat,” said Aspell.
“But I just said, I’m not abstaining,” said Luby.
“But you are abstaining. You’re refusing to vote,” said Aspell.
“Fine, I’ll tell you what, pay the bills, yes I’ll vote, pay the bills,” said Luby.
The bills were promptly paid.
From thereon in, the remainder of the meeting went smoothly.
Luby voted against a number, though not all, of ratifications to motions amending and modifying the snow clearing tender.
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News