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DCC Executive Session Minutes 2003-07-30

An Executive Session of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was held Wednesday,
July 30, 2003 at 7:54 p.m. in the conference room of the County Administration Building, notice of such meeting having been posted as required by law.

Commissioners Present: Leonard Jason, Jr.; Robert Sawyer; Leslie Leland; John Alley, Chairman; Nelson Smith; Paul Strauss; Roger Wey    
Also Present:  Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant; Laurie Perry.

Chairman Alley reviewed that last week the Commissioners had asked Ms. Perry to get definitive information from University College.  He then asked Ms. Perry what she had found out. Ms. Perry replied, “Nothing,” that her name was not on the Commencement Program list.

The Commissioners discussed this.  Commissioner Strauss added that he had also obtained the Alumni List that covered 1898 – 1998 and there were two pages of ‘Perry’ but Ms. Perry’s name was not on it.  Ms. Perry said she asked the College why a name not be on the list of Commencement and was told if there was an overdue library book or something about financial aid.  She mentioned a promissory note.  Discussion continued with Ms. Perry saying she hadn’t checked anything else, hadn’t called or lobbied,  since she’d believed the Commissioners had said ‘Bob’ would check employees that first time, and then last week the Commissioners had asked for the Commencement list. Ms. Perry said she had contacted employees and could get stamped documents.  Commissioner Smith asked why, if she’d contacted employers, she hadn’t had the documents sent and Ms. Perry said, ‘the rules keep changing.’ Commissioner Wey said he thought it was definitive last week that it was a requirement that Ms. Perry’s name be on the Commencement List.  

Commissioner Smith Moved that the Commissioner withdraw their offer of the County Manager’s position to Laurie Perry, (and added,) without prejudice. Commissioner Strauss Seconded the Motion.

Commissioner Sawyer Moved to Amend the motion, to say that action not take place until the regularly scheduled next meeting to give Laurie Perry one more opportunity to bring in something that satisfies the Commissioners.  Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion.

Discussion followed about waiting the two weeks until the August 13th meeting.  Commissioner Wey said he believed Ms. Perry had been given that opportunity several times and asked if she was highly certain she could produce something by then.  Ms. Perry said she could get employer letters like the Mercer letter.  Chairman Alley said he was still confused about the verification of enrollment letter stamped by Linda Allen, considering her letter said there was no record of Ms. Perry.

The Commissioners asked Ms. Smolev to get and read the Motion from last week.  That motion read as follows: “Commissioner Strauss Moved that the Commissioners give Laurie Perry until next Wednesday night, July 30, 2003, to submit documents that the Commissioners deem adequate to confirm having obtained a degree at Northeastern University.  The most preferred option being the list of graduates from that year. Commissioner Wey Seconded the Motion.  Commissioner Jason added 1977.  Commissioner Smith said he would not accept anything but from the Registrar.”

Discussion continued.  The Chair called for a Vote on the Amendment. Roll Call vote: Commissioner Sawyer – aye; Commissioner Wey - nay; Commissioner Jason – aye; Commissioner Smith – nay; Commissioner Strauss – nay; Commissioner Leland – aye; Chairman Alley – nay. The Motion to Amend failed.

Discussion began again about the main Motion to withdraw the offer.  Commissioner Strauss said he believed Ms. Perry had the ability and experience to do most of the County Manager’s job but he was distressed that she hadn’t come up with the information they required to validate her application and appointment. He agreed with other Commissioners about the need to treat Ms. Perry fairly and believed she had not been treated unfairly.  He added the Commissioners had worked hard to confirm her degree.  Commissioner Strauss suggested that perhaps Ms. Perry should withdraw her application.  The Commissioner discussed waiting two more weeks.  Commissioner Wey said there had been enough time, that this had been going on for months.  Ms. Perry said it was a waiting game for her and that she’d honored the Commissioners’ requests and gotten the Mercer letter which they’d said they’d accept.  Ms. Perry said she could have done this research a month ago but the Commissioners had asked Commissioner Sawyer to do it.  Commissioner Wey said she should have done it over a month ago.  Commissioner Sawyer asked the Commissioners if they were 100% sure that Ms. Perry couldn’t come up with the evidence.  He said if they were not 100$ sure, it was terrible to vote. He commented that absent Ms. Perry coming up with something, Commissioner Strauss’ suggestion to withdraw would mean the vote would never take place and the matter would be settled and the outside public would never know.  

Ms. Perry said she could get verification from employers.  She said General Dynamics had paid some of her tuition but they were closed.  She added that as a ‘double minority,’ she knew she wouldn’t have had a chance without having what was required.  She stressed all her experience and all she could contribute and said still she did not have a bad taste from this.  She said she gave up everything to do this.

Commissioner Leland asked about records from the Tribe. Ms. Perry showed him a verification form. There was mention of reconsidering the vote.  Commissioner Leland said that college was checked on the form from 1993 and it said Ms. Perry had a 3.4 average.  He asked who Helen Hall was and where she was now. Ms. Perry said she was the former Personnel person at the Tribe and she didn’t know where Ms. Hall was. There was discussion about the transcript that must have provided the average.  Commissioner Wey asked for copies of that form but Ms. Perry declined saying she was not submitting it, that she wasn’t hired yet.  She added that she hadn’t been assigned to do anything else when the Commissioners asked why she hadn’t tracked down Ms. Hall.  Commissioner Strauss said to call Ms. Hall.  Chairman Alley asked the Commissioners if she called Ms. Hall and Ms. Hall verified the document, would this be over.  Commissioners Smith, Strauss and Wey said no.  Commissioner Wey said the bar wasn’t changing, the Commencement List was it. Commissioner Jason said again that this was someone’s life.  Commissioner Strauss said he’d gotten a call from someone in the Tribe today who said the verification was of the Associate Degree and that the statement that Ms. Perry had graduated from Northeastern was verbal, that she had been observed holding an envelope that was said to contain a transcript but nobody had ever saw it.  Commissioner Jason reiterated someone’s life was on the line.  Commissioner Strauss said he was sorry if he sounded harsh and he didn’t take this lightly but he felt strongly that Ms. Perry should withdraw her application and the Commissioners could go to the Search Committee and reconvene that process and do it again and Ms. Perry could apply again if she wanted.  He said it was time to end this process and go back to square one and give everyone a chance.  Commissioner Leland said what difference would two weeks make. He added Ms. Perry’s life and professional reputation were in their hands.

Chairman Alley called for a Roll Call vote to withdraw the offer without prejudice: Commissioner Sawyer – nay; Commissioner Wey – aye ; Commissioner Jason – nay; Commissioner Smith – aye; Commissioner Strauss – aye; Commissioner Leland – nay; Commissioner Alley said he recognized this was a terrible thing but it couldn’t go on.  He then vote.  Chairman Alley – nay.  Chairman Alley said he’d been unclear about the Motion and that he’d meant to vote yes but he’d already voted and couldn’t change it.  Commissioner Sawyer said he couldn’t change his vote.  Commissioner Strauss suggested they reconsider and be fair if Chairman Alley was confused.  Commissioner Jason Moved to Adjourn. Commissioner Sawyer Seconded it. Chairman Alley said he hadn’t understood.  Commissioner Strauss asked if they hadn’t adjourned why it couldn’t be changed.  

Commissioner Wey asked if this would be mentioned in Open Session.  Ms. Perry asked if the letters would be acceptable.  Commissioners Smith and Wey said no.  Commissioner Jason said even if money was owed and that’s why the name’s not in there?  Commissioner Wey said no, he wanted something saying Ms. Perry graduated from Northeastern.  Commissioner Jason said then it was ‘shoveling ---- against the tide.’  Commissioner Strauss asked that the Motion to Adjourn be withdrawn.  Commissioner Jason withdrew the Motion and Commissioner Sawyer withdrew his Second.

Chairman Alley said it was irresponsible to walk away until August 13th and that they needed to take action.  He said he had gotten mixed up on the vote and he didn’t think they’d learn anything in two weeks, that they’d already bent over backwards.  Commissioner Smith said they were being held hostage to ‘Parliamentary bull.’  Commissioner Sawyer agreed the process must come to an end and that three things could happen: Ms. Perry could come up with something they could hang their hat on; Ms. Perry could withdraw her application; the Motion could be brought up again.  His preference, he said, was in that order.  Chairman Alley asked him to define ‘something,’ and said this was ‘bordering not responsible.’  Commissioner Wey said he expected something tonight that wasn’t here and nothing would change his mind except a University transcript or something from the University. Commissioner Smith said he wanted something from the University and that was clear all along.  Commissioner Jason said two weeks ago everyone agreed on verification from the employers.  Commissioner Smith said he hadn’t agreed to that.  Commissioner Strauss said he’d said all four employers.  Commissioner Wey said last week it was agreed Ms. Perry’s name had to be on the list.  Commissioner Smith said he’d wanted something from the Registrar.  Ms. Perry said the Minutes said the list was the most preferable option but not the only. Commissioner Strauss mentioned the Alumni List and said they were at an impasse.  Commissioner Wey and Chairman Alley said one wouldn’t be eliminated from an Alumni List for not paying a library fine, that if you went to a school, you were on the list.  Reconsideration was mentioned again, but nobody came forth to reconsider.  Commissioner Wey said this was going on for weeks.  He said they’d been elected to make decisions.  It wasn’t easy, but they were elected to make decisions.

Commissioner Strauss Moved to ask Laurie Perry to withdraw her application.  Commissioner Smith Seconded the Motion.  Chairman Alley said voting on that would further wound the Commissioners but said waiting two weeks ‘was nuts.’ Commissioner Strauss withdrew his Motion and Commissioner Smith his second.  

Commissioner Leland Moved to Adjourn.  Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion.
Chairman Alley called for a Roll Call vote to adjourn: Commissioner Sawyer – aye; Commissioner Wey - aye; Commissioner Jason – aye; Commissioner Smith – aye; Commissioner Strauss – aye; Commissioner Leland – aye; Chairman Alley – aye.  
The Commissioners adjourned the Executive Session at 8:59 PM. The Commissioners returned to Open Session.

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