Keiser sits with council for last time
In recognition of his seven years of service, the councilors honored him with an official proclamation, reciting a long list of his impressive accomplishments. They then called for a brief recess for refreshments at a table, spread with fruits and cheeses, in an adjoining room. Residents, staff and guests were invited to join the reception. Rep. Deb Ruggiero and Sen. President Teresa Paiva Weed were in attendance and conveyed the best wishes from the state legislature and House and Senate leadership.
Keiser choked up briefly when he praised his staff members for their professional efforts and support. In summing up his time as the town’s chief executive, he acknowledged residents and town officials had grappled with some difficult issues. Although they disagreed from time to time, he said, everyone involved had the same goal: “Make Jamestown a better place than it already is.”
Finance Director Tina Collins will take over as interim town administrator until a new chief executive can be chosen. Councilor Blake Dickinson reported the search committee is in the process of interviewing candidates this week.
In other news, the popular Fort Getty farmers market has received an extension to stay open on one Monday in September. Earlier, the Town Council approved the operation on Monday nights through the end of August. Heidi Doyle, who organized the farmers market, notified the councilors by letter on Aug. 14 that the market wanted to wrap up the season on Sept. 2.
Doyle also asked for permission to hold a potluck at the pavilion following the final day of the market. It would be a “celebration to say thank you for a great first year,” she said. Doyle also indicated she presented the idea to the Parks & Recreation Department and received its support. The councilors unanimously approved the request for an extension.
Under the consent agenda, the council accepted the finance director’s report, showing actual expenditures for the 2013 fiscal year that ended June 30. Expenses, which were paid by June 30, are included. According to the data, 96.79 percent of the $8.2 million budget has been spent.
In other business, the council approved the newly formed Jamestown Tick Task Force. Councilor Eugene Mihaly said the group on Monday afternoon held its first meeting, which was organizational. Besides Mihaly and Dickinson, the members are Maureen Coleman, Gemma Craig, Bruce Dickinson, Joseph England, Julie Janson, Randy Keck, Shawn Mayer, Jeff McDonough, George Souza and Barbara Szepatowski. In addition, Mihaly said, David Fuquea was being invited to join the panel. They will meet again next Monday and all meetings are open to the public.
The council decided to form a committee after several residents complained Lyme disease had become prevalent in the community. Mihaly said there had been “enough talk” and it was now time to put together an action plan.
Council President Kristine Trocki asked for legal advice about whether the task force meetings should be posted as Town Council meetings, due to the fact other councilors wanted to attend. Trocki said she would like to go to the meetings and Councilor Mary Meagher added she would also like to attend and comment. If the number of councilors amounted to a quorum, what was the correct procedure per open meetings laws, Trocki asked Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero.
Ruggiero said the meeting could legally be advertised as a council or task force meeting. If posted as a task force meeting, all the councilors could attend, he said. Even though a quorum would be present, he saw no violation of the open meetings law as long as the council members did not engage in a “deliberative discussion” or take any votes.
Mihaly said the task force’s first order of business would be to prepare educational materials about Lyme disease. In his view, posting the summit as a council meeting would make the process “overly complicated.”
Ruggiero said it would be possible to alternate between council and task force meetings, depending on the agenda.
“You can pick and choose,” he said.
Meagher asked if the council members, other than Mihaly and Dickinson, should sit in the audience.
“You just can’t make decisions,” Ruggiero said, unless the meeting has been advertised as a Town Council proceeding.
To keep it simple, Mihaly said, he would prefer to post the upcoming meeting as a Jamestown Tick Task Force meeting.
Dickinson said the task force would give enough notice to post the summit as a council meeting if councilors thought they would need to make a decision. He added people are sometimes cynical about committees, but this one is determined to “come up with real, actionable items,” and is making an “effort to have measurable goals.”