The political fireworks in the Town Council chambers Monday may not have equaled those enjoyed this past weekend and during Fourth of July celebrations, but at least a few councilors got heated and let the sparks fly.
“What’s your point with all of this,” Town Councilor Laura Tanner asked fellow councilor, Republican Dana McFee. “Are you trying to have me removed?”
McFee was angry about conflicting
McFee called the decisions “flip-flops.”
Town attorney Eileen Duggan called it a clarification of an opinion she offered in May.
Either way, the vote last month to approve the budget after a mayoral veto – which was held with just four councilors present – was deemed invalid and needed to be re-done Monday night. And it was the Tanner vote that was at issue.
Duggan said last month that it was a conflict of interest for a town councilor employed by the board of education to vote on the budget; Tanner is employed by the Montville Board of Education as an elementary school paraprofessional.
And Monday, in a letter to Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel, Duggan not only clarified that Tanner could not vote on the general town budget since he has the school budget within it, but that since she did, the vote was invalid.
“Although Ms. Tanner certainly had no malevolent intent in voting” it was nonetheless “at odds” with Duggan’s opinion.
Duggan said Tanner’s vote in early June to approve the overall budget -- where the vote was 6 to 1, -- was “inconsequential” as there were already a majority of yes votes. But on the June 26 vote, Duggan said, Tanner should have abstained and she did not. That vote was invalidated and the resolution was brought back to the table and voted on Monday, with McFee the lone dissenter.
“What a mess,” he said.
McFee has called for an independent review of Duggan’s opinions. The council did not back that request.
And in addition to that ruling, McFee questioned Duggan’s call that the budget recall petition he and others circulated was not permitted also was a dubious opinion.
“We need to discuss why we did this. The attorney’s flip-flopping position and the underhanded politics with this council…this whole (expletive), I’m sick over it,” he said. “You stole the right to petition from the people. It’s a sad day in Montville.”
Councilor Rosetta Jones said she was concerned about McFee’s “indictment” of the entire council adding she was not even at the June 26 meeting. Jones, McFee and Council President Candy Buebendorf did not attend that meeting.