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County Commission Minutes 10/23/02

The regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was scheduled for Wednesday, October 23, 2002 at 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room of the County Administration Building, notice of such meeting having been posted as required by law.

Commissioners Present:  Leslie H. Leland, Chairman
                                Robert Sawyer
                                E. B. Collins
                                Leonard Jason, Jr.
Roger Wey

Absent:                 John Alley
                               Daniel Flynn
Also Present:   Carol Borer, County Manager             
                        Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant              
                        Noreen Flanders, County Treasurer               
                        Sheriff McCormack       
                        Kathryn Roessel, SSA
                        David O’Sullivan, Special Sheriff                                       
                        Sandra Lothrop, Associate Commissioner
                        Anson Krickl, Universal Access Committee
                        Frederick Rundlet, Health Council
                        Marni Lipke, Health Council
                        Tad Crawford, Health Council
                        Woody Williams
                        Paul Straus     
                        Nelson Smith
                        George Schiffer 
                        Evan Blair, MV Times

Chairman Leland opened the meeting at 7:33 PM.

Commissioner Collins Moved that the Minutes of the Meeting of
September 25, 2002 be approved as written.   Commissioner Sawyer Seconded the Motion.  The vote to Approve the Minutes was Unanimous.

Mr. Crawford began the presentation of the Health Council’s Retreat update by stating that the representatives of the Health Council had come in the spirit of improved communication. He then reported the list of people serving on the Interim Coordinating Committee: Tad Crawford, Chair; Ilene Klein, Vice Chair; Jacque Cage, Secretary; Kathy Logue, Treasurer.  Fred Rundlet explained that he and Ned Robinson-Lynch collected and summarized questionnaires regarding the Retreat and that the Retreat would focus on reviewing the history of the Health Council and relationships with others (the County, Island Health Plan, Lighthouse Alliance, providers, practitioners, the community.)  From the Retreat, Mr. Rundlet said, would come affirmation of the Mission of the Health Council, along with goals, activities and partnerships.  The hope was to have Tom Wolfe facilitate the Retreat, which was scheduled to begin during the afternoon of November 20 and continue the morning of November 21.  The Commissioners were invited to attend.  Chairman Leland said he looked forward to continued information about the Retreat.  Commissioner Wey thanked the Health Council members for communicating their plans.  Commissioner Collins said he was delighted with the approach the Health Council was taking.  Commissioner Jason asked who would be participating in the Retreat.  Mr. Crawford answered that the Retreat was open to any interested parties but what was happening with the Health Council would be the focus of discussion.

Kathryn Roessel began her update on the SSA by announcing that the computerized reservation system would be online by January, 2003.  She also stated that there was a ruling on the dispute involving Galen Robbins and the Falmouth Board of Selectmen.  The ruling stated that under Massachusetts law, members of the SSA are independent of their appointing authorities.  It was not the case, therefore, that members selected by communities had to represent community opinions.  Members could exercise their independent judgments.  

Ms. Roessel stated that since the information was no longer covered under Executive Session, she could report that SSA members voted unanimously (with one abstention) to express confidence in CEO Mr. Raskin and to reaffirm the CEO model and work cooperatively.  She said now that the information was public, she would forward a copy of the amendment voted.

Ms. Roessel reported that she met with George Leontire and David Oliviera.  Her hope was that there would be a ‘civilized debate’ about further developing New Bedford service.  Ms. Roessel stated that with the ‘upbeat mood’ at the SSA, she believed the objective was achievable.  

Commissioner Sawyer said that because of Ms. Roessel’s perseverance, Islanders would see a reduction in excursion fares and the elimination of the 16 day limit.  He thanked Ms. Roessel for her efforts.

Commissioner Jason said he had no problem with SSA members defending themselves, but he was interested in what Mr. Sayres said about using public money to sue a public body.  Ms. Roessel said Commissioner Jason was not alone in questioning whether use of public funds for this was appropriate and that she would take it up at the next SSA meeting.  Ms. Roessel said there had not been a vote to hire Smith and Dugan to defend Mr. Robbins.  She said she found out they were Bringing an Action rather than ruling, by reading it in the paper. Commissioner Jason asked if Ms. Roessel felt it was inappropriate to spend taxpayer money for personal gain.  Ms. Roessel said of course, for personal gain, but the question was in this was an instance of that sort of activity. Her question, she added, was had the suit ended up with monetary damages, who would get them?  Commissioner Jason said that was his question too.  Ms. Roessel said she wanted an answer and Commissioner Jason said he would eagerly await that decision.  Ms. Roessel said Mr. Sayres would rule whether or not the discussion would be in Executive Session.  Commissioner Jason said he thought the CEO discussion should have been public as well.  Ms. Roessel said the Executive Sessions about the CEO were ‘head butting’ meetings about what the CEO concept meant and whether or not there had been a breach of contract. Ms. Roessel stated her personal feeling that had Mr. Raskin chosen to leave alleging breach of contract, the SSA would have been without defense.  She added that she was proud of the compromise reached, that Mr. Raskin was talented and she was glad he would stay.  Commissioner Jason said that after the last time Ms. Roessel came to a meeting and reporting things were going well, ‘all hell broke out.’  He asked if he could rest assured that Mr. Raskin would be around for a while and Ms. Roessel said she felt better about things now, but that it was the SSA.  Commissioner Jason asked for Minutes of the Executive Sessions and Ms. Roessel said she would ask Mr. Sayres to forward them to Mrs. Borer.  Commissioner Collins asked who had abstained.  Ms. Roessel said it had been Galen Robbins.

Chairman Leland asked if there were plans to bring the Schamonchi back to Vineyard Haven. Ms. Roessel that was not being discussed, but one option being considered was bringing two conventional but fast ferries in from New Bedford, one to Oak Bluffs and one to Vineyard Haven. Chairman Leland asked Ms. Roessel where she stood on the issue of freight service from New Bedford.  Ms. Roessel said she never voted for it, that the vote took place before her term began.  She added that Mr. Leontire’s interest in freight service from New Bedford was in sustainability and cost effective alternatives.  Chairman Leland asked about the process of studying alternatives.  Ms. Roessel said they were looking to review all the options and that would possibly include market research.  Commissioner Jason asked if New Bedford was charging the SSA for the use of State Pier.  Ms. Roessel said it hadn’t been decided to use State Pier, that they were running boats to South End, however under the Legislation, New Bedford, Ms. Roessel added, had to let the SSA use State Pier (DEM owned) at the standard rate of pay. Commissioner Jason asked about Ms. Roessel’s mention of leasing Billy Woods’ wharf and wondered why that would be favorable if it was cost efficient to use State Pier.  Ms. Roessel said neither location was perfect, but runs would not be moved until it was decided where ultimately they wanted things to end up.  Commissioner Jason said his concern was that they would get into a long-term lease when they could use a place for little or nothing. Ms. Roessel said she would not vote for a long-term lease while considering alternatives.

Commissioner Jason asked if there were plans to build a 100-car ferry to replace the Islander, because he was concerned about the effect that would have on the five corners in Vineyard Haven.  Ms. Roessel said that concerned had been raised and the initial thought had been lengthening the ferry and cutting back trips would save crew costs. The Tisbury Selectmen apparently had reservations about the plan.  Commissioner Collins reminded Ms. Roessel that the freight boats were originally to be used as a supplement only, and that they were meant to be kept in reserve.  He cautioned to be careful about commitments, that if the capacity is there, it will be used.

Ms. Roessel suggested another County Commissioner sponsored Forum to discuss these issues.  Commissioner Wey agreed and discussion followed about scheduling, with January, 2003 being the probable time for the Forum. Ms. Roessel agreed January would be good because the Falmouth SSA member could then be invited.  

Fred Rundlet asked about the computerization of reservations and the affect this would have on the SSA labor force.  Ms. Roessel said it would cut down on overtime. Discussion followed about the impact of this technology.  Mr. Rundlet suggested asking other industries how computerization and online technology has affected them.  Ms. Roessel said over 60% of annual costs were for labor.  She said investing in machines would bring efficiency, but replacing labor with capital had to be done realistically.

Commissioner Sawyer mentioned that the SSA had embraced the Universal Access Committee’s recommendations.  Ms. Roessel said Sandra Lothrop, Anson Krickl, and Jim Swindler deserved the credit for their realistic, well thought out recommendations.  

Tristan Israel mentioned that the Tisbury Selectmen were working with the SSA to reconfigure the flow of people and vehicles to bring people into downtown Tisbury.  

Commissioner Jason asked about Ms. Roessel’s meeting with George Leontire.  Ms. Roessel described the meeting as ‘roving’ then left at 8:44 PM.

Mrs. Borer began the County Manager’s Report by thanking the Search and Rescue Team for their hard work in the search for the two lost men in Sengekontacket Pond.

Mrs. Borer continued by recommending a 4% COLA for County employees and the reinstatement of salaries and step increases.  

Commissioner Jason Moved that a 4% COLA be adopted as recommended and
that salaries and step increases be reinstated.  Commissioner Wey Seconded the Motion.  The vote to adopt was Unanimous.

Mrs. Borer reported that the Auditors would be attending the November 13, 2002 meeting. She added that she would like to review the Administrative Codes.  Mrs. Borer explained that a group was coming to the November 13, 2002 meeting to discuss a dewatering project.  Commissioner Wey asked which companies were coming. Mrs. Borer answered, American Water Company and Northern Star.  Commissioner Jason suggested the presentation be made to the All Island Selectmen.  Commissioner Wey added that Oak Bluffs could benefit from such a report.  Mrs. Borer said perhaps the County could administer the operation of such dewatering for the Island.

Mrs. Borer reported that the County was being sued as a result of a plane crash in the State Forest and that the County’s insurance attorney was handling it.  

Mrs. Borer said that the Commissioners were given copies of a Rural Health Grant proposal for review.  She noted that the Commissioners were invited to an event given by the Vineyard Transit Authority on October 28 at 11 AM.

The Chairman noted that the Minutes of the Airport Commission Meeting of October 2, 2002, were in the Commissioners’ packets.  Commissioner Wey asked if headway was being made in reference to the Northeast Quadrant.  Mrs. Flanders said FAA was asking for documents about the $108,000 that the County was awaiting from the Airport.  

Candidate Night, sponsored by the League of Women Voters was scheduled for October 29.

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that the meeting be adjourned.  Commissioner Wey Seconded the Motion.  The meeting adjourned at 8:58 PM.

Complete text of meeting is available on tape at the County Commissioners’ office.


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