Finally some rain. According to the National Weather Service over 2 inches. A little warm and sticky today but it looks like some nicer weather by the end of the week. Let’s all hope for a colorful fall.
Last night the city council was scheduled to finish up our business from our regularly scheduled meeting on September 12th. Unfortunately we didn’t have a quorum and couldn’t hold the meeting. I am attaching a copy of the article I posted on Patch in regards to this.
As always you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or 224-6086
Does This Make Any Sense?
City Councilor to Represent City Without Consensus from the City Council
At our July 11th City Council meeting the City Council nominated Councilor Coen to attend the New Hampshire Municipal Association’s (NHMA) upcoming Legislative Policy Conference on behalf of the City Council on September 23rd.
I requested that this item (Item-39) be placed on our September agenda because of concerns that Councilor Coen’s request for City Councilors to share our thoughts with him on this issue - through an August 19th email - did not meet the requirements of RSA 91-A, commonly referred to as the State’s Right to Know Law.
At our regular scheduled meeting on September 12th, we did not have enough time to complete our agenda and the meeting was recessed until September 19th. The Monday after all city council meetings is reserved for a recessed meeting just for the reason that occurred at our regularly scheduled meeting. We ran out of time.
So when I went to our recessed meeting on Monday September 19th, only 6 councilors (including myself) and the mayor were present. That meant eight councilors were absent and according to the mayor excused. In order to convene a City Council meeting we must have a quorum which means eight councilors need to be present. Here’s a question, when was the last time a city council meeting couldn’t go forward because there wasn’t a quorum?
Here is where it really gets weird. When I mentioned my concerns for sending Councilor Coen to the NHMA meeting without a consensus from the City Council I was told that it didn’t matter, because if the Legislative Policy Recommendations passed and we disagreed with them we could always request the administration to testify against them, if the NHMA recommendations made it to the State House. So here we have the potential for a situation where the City Council representative votes approval on Legislative Policy Recommendations and at a later date the City Council decides to oppose it and testify against it. How does that make any sense?
How does it make sense to have one person represent the City Council and by extension, the City of Concord and be told to use his best judgement? No input or consensus from the City Council and no public testimony to guide our decision. As you will see Councilor Coen appeared to have enough concerns about the lack of guidance from the City Council that an email was sent to all the Councilors soliciting our thoughts.
This is the text of that email:
“As you all may recall, Councilor Coen will be representing the City of Concord at the upcoming NHMA Legislative Policy Conference on Friday, September 23rd.
The 2017-2018 policy recommendations that will be considered at the conference are attached. Please review and touch base with Councilor Coen to share your thoughts on these proposed recommendations.”
As I stated above I felt this communication did not meet the requirements of our State’s Right to Know law. Here is what the RSA states:
RSA 91-A:2 -II “Communications outside a meeting including, but not limited to, sequential communications among members of a public body, shall not be used to circumvent the spirit and purpose of this chapter as expressed in RSA 91-A:1”.
So how does this affect you? Some of the Legislative Policy Recommendations if enacted could impact the rights of public employees to negotiate, the State’s retirement system, allow communities to charge a fee for access to public documents, limit the State’s ability to set environmental policies and much more. For a complete list of the policies you can go to item 39 in the September 19th, City Council agenda. Here is the Link: https://concordnh.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
We have a situation where a City Councilor is set to represent our city and is not provided any guidance or a consensus from us. And we have a situation where that Councilor looking for direction from the City Council requests our thoughts on the matter and appears to not meet the requirements of our State’s Statutes.
Because we did not have a quorum and were unable to provide Councilor Coen with guidance or a consensus on the NHMA Legislative Policy Recommendations I can only hope that if Councilor Coen does decide to attend the Legislative Policy Recommendation meeting on Friday September 23rd, that he will refrain from voting.