This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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“What’s pertinent here is the way we behave toward one another.”
Those words from Mayor Tom Tomzak were part of a low point at last night’s City Council meeting, where council members—or more specifically, Matt Kelly and Debby Girvan—picked at each other over communication and procedural issues.
The storm began brewing last week, when Kelly sent out an e-mail laying out the specifics of a proposal that both he and Kerry Devine had been discussing with city officials on downtown parking rules.
Kelly sent the e-mail to every council member but Girvan. Girvan had placed an item on downtown parking on the council agenda for last night’s meeting, but she hadn’t submitted any memo to go along with it.
In the inside-baseball world of the rules that this council has set up for itself, that is a good way to get everybody confused and riled up.
Girvan kicked off the parking discussion last night by reading a one-minute statement saying Kelly’s action was unacceptable, and, “this council and the public should not tolerate the deliberate exclusion of council members.”
She said she caught wind of Kelly’s e-mail only because “he left it on a string that he sent out on Monday when everything was wrapped up and sealed,” basically accusing Kelly of maneuvering behind the scenes to get public business lined up outside of council’s public meetings.
Kelly accused Girvan right back of putting memos on council members’ desks in the minutes before council meetings start, without giving anyone a heads-up. He asked why she didn’t contact him after she realized she’d been left off the e-mail chain, “instead of trying to beat someone over the head with it.”
It’s not clear what all that accomplished, but the irony is that the entire discussion followed a quick and unanimous vote by the council (mainly because Tomzak demanded that council members separate the substantive discussion from the fussing) on the part of this discussion that could actually have an effect on city residents.
Council members forwarded this proposal on downtown parking to city staff so that it can start going through the governmental process for making an ordinance-change.