DUKES COUNTY COMMISSION
Special Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman John Alley called the meeting to order at 5:08 p.m. A quorum was present. Commissioners Leonard Jason, Jr., Robert M. Sawyer, Nelson Smith, and Paul Strauss were present. County Manager E. Winn Davis and Deborah H. Potter, Executive Assistant were also present.
Other representatives or visitors present included, Noreen Mavro Flanders, Dukes County Treasurer; William Mill, Airport Commission; Joanie Ames of MVTV; Geoffrey Freeman, Citizen and airport employee; Diane Powers, Register of Deeds; Jack Law, Airport Commission Chairman; Frank Daly, Airport Commission; Jim Kinsella of the Vineyard Gazette; Sheriff Michael McCormack, Dukes County Sheriff; Dan Flynn, Citizen; Ezra Blair of the Martha's Vineyard Times; Lois Flynn, Citizen; Tad Crawford, Citizen; Special Sheriff David O’Sullivan, Sheriff’s Department; Ike Russell, Citizen; Sean Flynn, MVY Airport Manager.
Adoption of Minutes:
The minutes of the January 11, 2006 meeting and executive session were deferred.
Request for reconsideration of Airport Commissioner appointments at the request of two commissioners:
Paul Strauss made the motion to reconsider the appointments of Jack Law and Leslie Leland and seconded by Nelson Smith. Mr. Alley asked for comments and Mr. Strauss added that he has thought about the situation over the last few days and stated he feels like a mediator between two groups who insist on opposing each other instead of working together. He noted he would much rather, instead of making this motion, to see the individuals discuss the issues. Another subject that has come to his attention a number of times is that this motion to reconsider is a comment on Sean Flynn being airport manager. Mr. Strauss continued by stating that up until the time the airport manager was selected, he believed that Sean Flynn might not have the appropriate level of training and experience, however, once the
Airport Commission made the decision to pick him, he stated he would do his best as a County Commissioner to help Sean Flynn become the best airport manager possible. He noted that if anyone present believed that this vote was a referendum on Sean Flynn or that something like that would follow this discussion are incorrect. The people who we are addressing tonight are people in a situation where the people are not necessarily bad but that sometimes good people make bad choices.
John Alley called for additional comments. Mr. Sawyer added for the record that he agreed with Mr. Strauss and noted that he worries about misunderstandings. He believes that the Airport Commission used bad judgment in their process in hiring the search firm and then ignoring the recommendations. He continued that notwithstanding the fact, he felt his first choice was Sean Flynn and believes that the Airport Commission should have noted that there was a strong in house candidate. His criticism, he added, is of the process and not a reflection on Sean Flynn as manager. The second thing he added was that he has known Mr. Law and Mr. Leland for years; however, his vote is not based on friendships or relationships but on protecting public trust. He noted that in this situation an appropriate
analogy was that in private business when a board of directors makes a policy, if any employee or appointee does not follow that policy, the board of directors must take action.
Mr. Smith then added he concurred with Mr. Sawyer and Mr. Strauss and that a lot of this could have been avoided if he had made himself a little better informed and took responsibility for not doing being up to speed in terms of what happened regarding the contract. Mr. Alley noted that this vote is not referencing a vote on the manager. With no further discussion from the commissioners, Mr. Alley called for the vote on the motion to reconsider the appointments of Mr. Law and Mr. Leland. Mr. Dan Flynn asked if the commissioners were going to take any discussion from the public and Mr. Alley replied public comment would be considered at a later time as this decision was a commission decision. Mr. Alley called for the vote and the motion was SO VOTED (5-0-0).
Mr. Alley opened the floor to Mr. Law for comments. Mr. Law noted that he stands by his decisions. In regards to the letter the boards agreed to in June the lawsuit was pending but as the judgment came down from the lawsuit, he felt that it enabled them to make a contract. He noted that the County Manager, many town executive secretaries, and several other town executives are under contract protect them. He feels that he has done a good job as an airport commissioner.
Nelson Smith made a motion to rescind the appointments of Mr. Law and Mr. Leland to the airport commission and seconded by Paul Strauss and SO VOTED (5-0-0).
Mr. Davis asked if the current time frame for submission of applications should be extended. Mr. Davis noted he would go back on TV, advertise, and post the information at various locations. Mr. Flynn made several comments about not finding people willing to serve and during this time Mr. William Mill handed Mr. Davis a letter of resignation. Mr. Daly asked if he could verbally submit his resignation and was advised it needed to be in writing. Mr. Daly subsequently wrote his letter of resignation and submitted it effective immediately. After some further discussion, the ending date for the submission of applications to the airport commission was extended to February 10. The earliest date for consideration of the meeting would be the February 22 unless a special meeting is called.
Mr. Alley recognized Tad Crawford; however, Mr. Crawford deferred his comments until after the Sheriff and Mr. Dan Flynn. Sheriff Mike McCormack added that in the case of Mr. Law, he wanted to publicly recognize him for his leadership as the airport commissioner regarding his ability to come to a consensus for the site of the new jail. It was through his leadership that the new location for the jail was recognized and he hopes that they reapply for the commission now that the commissioner’s point has been made.
Mr. Flynn noted that the two boards, both of which he has served on, have conflicts of interest and conflicting statues and those conflicts were resolved by a lengthy lawsuit. He added that from his understanding is that this whole event is the result of hiring Bennett Yeager; however, the entire process started earlier in the 1990’s when the county commissioners first started as a result of the charter. He was one of the original designers of the flowchart that put the airport under the county manager; however, as a result of the discussion, MAC, the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission, came up with a list of assurances and guarantees that were needed to get funding for the new terminal. He noted that two of the members of the board in this room signed on the assurances guaranteed to MAC regarding the
funding of the Airport Terminal and he has honored his signature. He added that originally there were two applicants for the consultant position and after a lot of input Bennett Yeager was selected. He continued that this was not the first time a consultant’s view has been ignored by the Airport Commission or County Commission. He noted the example of Hoyle Tanner’s original recommendation that no jail be on the airport. He stated that when the next round of appointments were made and the commissioners were replaced, the jail proposal passed. He noted that the boards need to work together.
Mr. Flynn continued by stating that there were several well known and respected individuals, like Bob Carroll, Robert Smith, Marc Villa, and Ken Eber, who asked for re-appointment and were denied. He noted that tonight there should be some finality. He also noted that the funds for Bennett Yarger are not taxpayer funds but public funds from the Airport.
Tad Crawford the added that in his judgment a new page needs to be turned and as an abutter he has an interest in the growth of the airport. He noted that many people would like to see the county disbanded and he doesn’t agree with that noting that he has worked with the county as a member of the DCHC; however, he is suggesting a different approach to the appointment process. He stated that in his judgment one of the things that brings the most discredit to the county is the appointment of county commissioners to the airport commission. He stated that there are certain qualities that should be put at the forefront of the selections of new candidates including: a genuine awareness and knowledge of airport operations, superb interpersonal skills including the ability to resolve conflict, real board level
experience, and a genuine commitment to communication with the community. He noted that the airport has an obvious accountability to the FAA but it also has one the community at large. When you look at the most successful appointees, they were those who took it upon themselves to communicate with the public. He also suggested finding people have a respect for the community at large. He urged the commissioners to take the opportunity to address the needs of the community with top flight candidates.
Mr. Kinsella asked if someone could read Mr. Daly’s letter. Mr. Davis read the letter stating:
To the County Commission, please accept my resignation as an Airport Commissioner effective immediately. Signed Frank Daly.
Mr. Kinsella also asked about Mr. Mill’s submission which Mr. Alley noted was a type written letter. Mr. Kinsella asked Mr. Smith why he considered rescinding the appointments of Jack Law and Les Leland to the airport commission. Mr. Smith responded basically because he was poorly informed the first time and apologized for not being up to speed on the issues beforehand especially regarding the fact that the agreement of last summer was not followed. Mr. Kinsella asked Mr. Strauss why he voted to rescind the appointments and Mr. Strauss stated partly because he wasn’t fully informed and he believed that the document was ongoing. Mr. Smith noted that his vote was based on the issue of failing to abide by the agreement but added that Mr. Law and Mr. Daly both should be thanked for their service.
Mr. Kinsella asked why Mr. Leland was not present. Mr. Sawyer responded that Mr. Leland had a commitment that he could not get out of but that he wanted to be here. Mr. Blair asked how they became more informed on the situation and Mr. Smith noted that after the meeting he discovered more information regarding the current situation and how procedure has not been followed. Mr. Blair also asked Mr. Strauss the same question and Mr. Strauss replied pretty much the same answer. He added that he had discovered additional information that he was unaware of and that it seemed that process has not been adhered to.
Mr. Jason then started to comment on some of Mr. Mill’s letter regarding the statement that the commissioners were trying to exert control over the airport commission. Mr. Dan Flynn interjected that the commissioners do that on a regular basis. Mr. Jason then asked Mr. Mill if he had ever tried to persuade Mr. Mill to vote in any specific manner and Mr. Mill stated yes in regards to the sitting of the jail. Mr. Mill stated that the commissioners try to exert control of the airport through the appointments and noted that whenever someone does not agree with the commission they are not reappointed.
Nelson Smith made the motion and seconded by Robert M. Sawyer to adjourn at 5:43 pm and so voted (5-0-0)
· The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission meets Wednesday, January 18, 2006 5 p.m. at the General Aviation Building
· The next meeting of the Dukes County Commission with the CAB will be Wednesday, January 25, 2006 5 p.m. at the General Aviation Building
· The Dukes County Health Council meets Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building
· County Discussion committee meets Thursday, Jan 26, 2006 at the Hawes House in West Tisbury at 5 p.m.
· The next County/Town Meeting is with the Edgartown Selectmen on Monday, January 30, 2006 at the Edgartown Town Hall.
· The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority meets TBD at the DCRHA building, State Road, Vineyard Haven.
· The Steamship Authority meets Tuesday, February 7, 2006 in Woods Hole
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts