OV agenda slashed over procedural questions

The extensive agenda for the Ocean View Town Council meeting on Sept. 9 was cut drastically Tuesday after a 3-2 vote by the council determined the procedure of adding items to an agenda had not been properly performed.

Councilman Roy Thomas said Mayor Gordon Wood and Councilman Bill Wichmann did not follow Rule 11, which states that all items placed on an agenda will be accompanied by written drafts distributed to all town council members by noon on the Friday before the meeting. Such motions or resolutions were not received, said Thomas.

Wood countered that the items on the agenda were self-explanatory and up for discussion, not necessarily a vote, and thus not putting Rule 11 into play.

Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader concluded that, in the case of Agenda Item 7E, the rules Thomas cited did not apply. Wood’s motion was for reconsideration of a motion the council had approved in August, regarding approval of past retention of counsel, including an outside attorney who reviewed the contract of the town’s police chief.

Schrader said it was his opinion a reconsideration could be discussed because the matter should already be fairly well known by the council members, because they had already voted on it.

Several of the other items stricken from the agenda because of Thomas’s challenge revolve around related issues. They included discussion and consideration to invite attorney Wendy Voss to attend a Sept. 16 special meeting; discussion of plans for performance and salary review of the town manager; and discussion on possible partial delegation of authority in the police chief’s contract to the town manager; as well as Wichmann’s request for discussion on renting the Lampe House if construction on the proposed Public Works Building is postponed.

Thomas argued that those items were too complex to be discussed without the proper documents available. He cited Mason’s rules – the town’s parliamentary rules – in his reasoning, and Wood called a timeout to consult the rule book.

“I’m just following procedure that you enforce,” said Thomas to Wood. “The rest of the councilmen have to follow the rules, but you don’t?”

Councilman Richard Nippes and Councilman Perry Mitchell both voted in favor of Thomas’s motion to strike the items from the agenda, while Wood and Wichmann were in opposition.

The items were stricken on that 3-2 vote, but Wood said it did a disservice to the town because the discussion would have helped residents understand certain issues better.