DUKES COUNTY COMMISSION
Special Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.
VTA Meeting Room
Call to Order
Chairman John Alley called the meeting to order at 5:02 p.m. A quorum was present. Commissioners Leonard Jason, Jr., Leslie Leland, Nelson Smith, Roger Wey and Robert M. Sawyer were present. County Manager E. Winn Davis and Deborah H. Potter, Executive Assistant were also present.
Other representatives or visitors present included, Joanie Ames of MVTV; Geoff Freeman, Airport Employee; Ezra Blair, Martha's Vineyard Times; Jim Kinsella, Vineyard Gazette, M. Peter Rogers, Airport Hanger Lease Holder; Ted Stanley, Airport Operator; Margo Villa, Citizen; Sean Flynn, Martha's Vineyard Airport Manager; Ryan Collins, Airport Employee; Arthur Allen, Chairman Mass Aeronautics Commission; Paul Daniele, Citizen; Mark Villa, Citizen; Margaret Logue, Citizen; Dan Flynn, Citizen, Lois Flynn, Citizen; and the following Airport commission Applicants: TJ Hegarty, Pete Hefler, Paul Adler, John Clarke, Fred Condon, John Coskie, James Craig, Myron Garfinkle, Francis Gildea, Frank Honey, Ron MacLaren, Donald Ogilvie, and Connie Teixeira
Mr. Alley noted that the Commissioners would be interviewing 14 candidates and that he would not call for a vote this evening so that the commissioners would have the opportunity to review the meeting or to possibly bring back some candidates for a second interview if needed. He noted that Mr. Weibrecht called him just prior to the meeting and could not attend but wanted to remain in consideration for the position.
Mr. Leland read the following letter, he stated he received today from Palmer and Dodge, into the record:
Re: Removal by the Dukes County Commissioners of Jack Law and Leslie Leland from the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission.
Dear Mr. Law,
You requested an opinion as to whether the Dukes County Commissioner’s (county commissioners) actions on January 17, 2006 to rescind the appointments of Leslie Leland (Mr. Leland) and you (hereinafter as Mr. Law) to the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission (airport commission). Mr. Law and Mr. Leland currently hold positions as airport commissioners. The county commissioners had voted to renew their positions for additional three-year terms on January 11, 2006.
This letter assumes that the appointments of Law and Leland were valid as of the January 11th vote. We have found no law to indicate that the appointments would not be effective following a lawful vote of a majority of the county commissioners. This letter therefore addresses the question of whether the county commissioners, having duly appointed Law and Leland, have the power to remove them from their offices. The short answer is that a court would likely find that the county commissioners do not have the authority to remove Law and Leland before the end of their terms.
Under G.L. c. 90 § 51E, the county commissioners have the power to appoint the airport commissioners. If an official’s term in office is fixed by state law for a definite period, he may not be removed unless state law also provides authority for his removal before the term expires. Del Duca v. Town Administration of Methuen, 368 Mass. 1, 7 (1975); Adie v. Mayor of Holyoke, 303 Mass. 295, 300 (1939). In this case, G.L. c. 90 § 51E fixes the term of the airport commissioners to three years and does not grant the county commissioners a concomitant authority to revoke their appointment. Thus, the county commissioners lack the power to remove Law and Leland.
Under the County Charter, G.L. c. 34 § 18 (C)(i)(j) and 16 (A)(i), the county commissioners may remove “such officers and employees as the board is permitted by law” and to “create, alter, abolish offices, positions, and employments and define functions, powers, and duties thereof; establish qualifications for the persons holding offices, positions, and employments; and provide for the manner of their appointment and removal and for their term, tenure, and compensation.” However, the removal power of the county is limited to the offices, positions, and employments created, altered, or abolished by the county. The removal power does not extend to offices created by state law, such as the airport commission.
This interpretation of the limited statutory powers of the county commissioners to appoint, but not remove, airport commissioners is consistent with the statutory framework governing local airports. The court ruled in its Findings of Fact, Rulings of Law and Order For Judgment in Weibrecht v. Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission (July 14, 2005) that G.L. c. 90 § 39-51N prevailed over conflicting provisions of G.L. c 34A.
Feel free to call me if you have any additional questions.
Kevin D. Batt
Mr. Leland then stated that he thought it would be inappropriate to continue with the selection process until this matter is resolved. Mr. Leland made a motion to suspend the process of selecting new airport commissioners until this is resolved and seconded by Nelson Smith for discussion. Mr. Jason asked what matter Mr. Leland wanted resolved. Mr. Leland stated that he did not feel that the Commissioners had the authority to rescind the appointments. Mr. Wey stated that he felt they should continue since they had everyone there. Mr. Alley agreed and asked Mr. Leland if the airport commission had authorized the action of requesting the opinion and Mr. Leland responded it was authorized by the Chairman of the Airport Commission, Jack Law. Mr. Sawyer asked who was going to pay for the legal opinion Mr. Leland responded that it could very well be himself and Jack Law. Mr. Wey again noted that the selection process was not going to occur that evening so the process should continue. With no further discussion, Mr. Alley called for a vote and the motion failed to pass (1-5-0.)
CY 2006 Interviews and Appointments: The commissioners interviewed the 13 applicants present at the meeting for the position of Airport Commissioner. Highlights of each candidate’s responses to questions from the Commissioners are as follows:
TJ Hegarty: Mr. Hegarty stated he was applying for the 1-year appointment. He noted that he wanted to return to the commission, with the new make-up of the board, to get some necessary work done. He stated that there is a lot of work to be done with the development of the Business Park and wanted to participate in the process. He stated that he is willing to honor agreements made by the Commission and noted that he is willing to compromise. He added that there has been too much un-necessary conflict and thinks the jail should be located at the proposed site. He noted that his experience on the commission and his building experience serve to help him in this capacity. He encourages an open dialogue between the Airport Commission, County, and the public. He stated that he would vote in the best interests of the airport as an airport commissioner as this position is to ensure the care and custody of the airport. He added he wants the airport to continue to develop, in accordance with the Master Plan, in the best interest of the community, have a more open meeting process and see a more timely implementation of commission votes.
Peter Hefler: Mr. Hefler stated he has been following the search and could be a benefit to the commission. He noted he agreed with the idea of having the jail at the airport and as far as other agreements went, he believed the airport commission had the right to make decisions regarding the airport but noted that some of the specifics were not clear. He stated his 20 years of service in the USAF provided him with a substantial background in aviation. He then transitioned into ground transportation and his experiences in Baltimore and Portland provide even more experience in the transportation industries. He stated one of the best qualities he could bring to the commission was to encourage the organization to operate to the best of its ability. He explained how he improved the operation of Portland in this manner. He felt the operation here has substantial potential and would be interested in helping the airport develop into a world-class operation. He added that he is capable of compromise and sees himself as a team player. He stated he feels the Airport commission should set salaries and that sitting County Commissioners should not also be on the airport commission. He stated to keep the public informed he would not keep secrets, get the word out, and use the press more effectively. He also added that in his opinion the Assistant Airport Manager should be the “nuts and bolts” man taking care of the day to day operations while the Manager should be more involved in looking for financing and grants and the big picture. He sees the Airport Commission as an advisory group to help provide guidance and direction.
Paul Adler: Mr. Adler stated that as a pilot he felt this was one of the best-run airports as far as safety and his talents would lie within helping the day-to-day operations. His experience includes working with the Coast Guard aviation unit, interacting with Homeland Security, and providing technical information to the FAA. He added that the State Ethics commission that he contacted at the request of the County Managers Office, told him that he could participate on the Commission but would require a letter to be sent to the State Ethics Commission by the County Commissioners stating that there was some one serving on the board that has an interest in the airport property. He stated that he feels he is qualified to serve on the commission, has an interest in the public good, an extensive aviation background, and is well known as an effective manager. He noted that he felt communication was essential between all parties and would work towards preventing problems instead of allowing them to escalate. He added that before committing to honor prior agreements, he would want to research the agreement to formulate his own opinion. He would also research what his position enabled him to do and then act accordingly but once he made a decision, he usually stood by that decision. He added that he is a team player and willing to compromise. He also noted that under most circumstances he does believe that it is important to keep your word and honor your agreements. In the event someone wanted to break an agreement, he added, there was a process that should be followed in accordance with the law and that should be used. He stated that he felt the most important thing about community relations was to ensure that the public felt involved. He stated he believed that there was too much use of lawyers recently to avoid conflict and that he would honor whatever statutes were applicable. He stated he felt the new Assistant Airport manager should be someone with sensitivity to the airport and its needs. He also noted the individual needed to relate to a variety of users as well as to the business users of the business park. He noted that he is not in favor of expanding the runways of the airport and is not a proponent of encouraging larger planes to start using the facility. He stated the Business Park was different in that the area could be used to encourage business that helps reduce the cost of living for residents. He noted his role as commission was to primarily be that of a listener and objectively vote on decisions.
John Clarke: Mr. Clarke stated he was interested in serving on the commission to protect the interests of the tenants of the Business Park; however, he noted that he did not feel the Business Park was in turmoil. He stated there were a variety of factors that impacted the ability of the airport to operate “the best it can” but would look at the factors as they changed over time to determine the best course of action. He added that if he entered into an agreement it was important to honor that agreement as long as it is legal. He felt that honesty was important in resolving potential disagreements between the boards. He noted that he has experience in budgeting and management and those areas would be helpful to the commission. He added that he felt he was a team player and was willing to compromise. He thought the needs of the Business Park mainly included minor issues but that communication between the tenants, commission, and manager could be improved. He stated that he would respond honestly to the press and the public to improve relations. He added that he did not feel that he had to go to the county for approval of his decisions as an airport commissioner but if he voted on something that directly affected the county he would advise them of the situation. He stated that the new Assistant Airport Manager should be a policy setter and problem solver who works to ensure the public trust especially regarding financial matters. He feels his allegiance is to the citizens of Dukes County.
Fred Condon: Mr. Condon noted he is a pilot who used the airport facilities and had qualifications that could be useful to the Airport. He added he felt it was time to mend the fences between the two commissions in the interests of the public. He added that while the airport has a lot of potential, his belief is not that the airport needs to be bigger but should focus on being run more efficiently. He noted that if there is an existing agreement that is legal and binding it should be honored and if there are problems, the parties need to sit down and resolve them. He added his skills in negotiating, management, and public relations would be helpful to the commission. He also noted that he is a team player who is also willing to compromise. Mr. Condon stated that he was not familiar with the Jail proposal but it made sense. He added he applied because he saw it as an opportunity to make a difference. In public relations he noted there were a variety of potential methods to improve all kinds of relations and explore other opportunities and initiatives. He would also encourage sharing different elements of the Master plan with the community so that they can have an input into the process. He added that regarding financial issues the airport cannot operate in a vacuum but needs to relate to other entities around them. He also noted that in his opinion the past issues need to be resolved and new relations developed for the future but would be an independent thinker. He added that for the Assistant Airport Manager he would look for someone who complements the manager but would also be capable of running the airport in the event the manager cannot. He noted that while he feels the allegiance to the citizens is important, providing for the airport is important as well.
John Coskie: Mr. Coskie noted that he has used the airport extensively as a commuter but that now he is here full time, he wants to contribute back to the community. He noted that his background in sales and banking has developed his communication and analytical skills, which will help the airport commission, move forward. He added that compromise and communication was essential for the success of everyone concerned especially the taxpayers of the vineyard. He remarked that he has a private pilots license and a deep interest in aviation. He noted that while he was not aware of the specifics of the agreement between the two commissions; however, that an agreement should be honored. He also said that if something changed the circumstances of that agreement, communication about those changes should be effected. He felt his business experience could help bridge the gaps between the two groups. He noted he was capable being a team player and compromising while also using the skills of his superiors and subordinates to accomplish the goals. As far as public relations improvement, he wanted to encourage the use of other groups to help get information out and to also get appropriate feedback to consider for action. He stated that as a commissioner, he would make decisions as necessary but would be remiss if the airport commissioners did not inform the county commissioners of necessary information. He also stated that his role as an airport commissioner was to provide support and vision to the airport manager to move forward as described in the master plan.
Connie Teixeira: Mrs. Teixeira described her aviation background with various airlines and noted that her background and management skills could be useful in helping the airport work more efficiently. She noted that to resolve conflicts both sides should be examined and then a peaceful, middle ground should be found. She noted that she considers herself a team player that is willing to compromise. She stated that she thinks the location of the Jail is fine and that she would need to review the specifics of the agreement between the Airport and County commissioners but unless there was some extenuating circumstance, the agreement should be honored. She noted that there is always room for improvement regarding aiding people with disabilities. She added that she would use the media to promote the airport and try to incorporate more town involvement with the Airport as well. She added that if appointed she would make decisions independently but also believed that a dialogue between the two boards should exist.
Jamie Craig: Mr. Craig noted that he was the current Chairman of Katama Airport Commission, an Edgartown Police Officer, and a former military officer and that as a problem solver, he felt he might be able to use his skills to help the airport. He added that he had no personal agenda for the airport but planned on using the Master Plan to help facilitate the operation of the Airport. As a police officer he noted he resolves conflict on a daily basis; however, he believed that the best way to resolve conflict was to be a good listener and then find an acceptable compromise without volatility. He also noted that he was a man of his word who would stand by his decisions. He stated he would first gather information and then make a decision based on upon what he believed to be the right course of action. He could not agree to abide by others agreements but would be open to reviewing the facts to see if the agreement was legal and appropriate. He noted his experience with Katama and as a Naval Aviator would help him provide management, logistics, training, and other related issues that the airport faces. He also noted that he is a team player who is capable of compromising. He stated that while he is in favor of placing the jail at the airport he is not informed on all of the laws relating to the use of the airport property for this purpose. He also noted that most people on island gather their information through the newspapers so being open and honest with the press is essential as is being available to answer questions from the public. He stated that he would want to ensure he understood what is role, responsibilities, and obligations are and then act appropriately. He noted that it should not be adversary in nature and that if the airport has the right to act independently it should; however, that does not mean there shouldn’t be communication between the two boards. He added that the Assistant Airport Manager would be equivalent to a military executive officer. He would look for someone who was both a leader and a good manager who could inspire the employees.
Myron Garfinkle: Mr. Garfinkle noted that he wanted to participate on the airport commission because he felt he could be effective in that role and he wants to give back to the community. He noted that he approaches each conflict independently as the circumstances may change from problem to problem. He noted that is would be beneficial to remove personality from many of these problems and work towards finding an appropriate solution. He added that he would be disappointed if an agreement was not honored but would seek out a reason as to why the agreement failed. He stated that he has had substantial success in business and management and that could be helpful as would his experiences as a pilot and resident of the island. He noted that he was a team player and was absolutely willing to compromise. He added that he wasn’t familiar enough with the jail proposal but did not see any reason why it should not be at the airport. He detailed his experience in turning around ANCOR services. He also added he was a man of his word. He noted that if he were dealing with the salary negotiation he would expect to have the latitude to work within an established criteria but would work within those limitations. He noted that he would use the press more effectively to get information out to the public and to consider more advertising. He also would seek more input from a variety of sources to work on various areas but to especially improve communication. Some of the characteristics he would look for in the Assistant Manager would be people skills, communication, and business strength. He stated he did not feel adequately informed about the Master Plan nor were the people in general interested in the process but that the process itself was appropriate. He added that safety was the number one priority but that fiscal responsibility was important as well.
Frank Gildea: Mr. Gildea noted he had been a seasonal resident for years but recently retired here full time and wanted to contribute to the community. He stated that the airport exists to serve the residents of Martha’s Vineyard and secondarily to service the needs of business and visitors. He would periodically review the master plan to see how progress for the airport is being made. He noted that he resolves conflict through communication as most conflict is created as the result of the lack of communication. He also added that if he enters into an agreement it is important to honor it. He noted that he had a variety of experience including working within the Aviation industry, management experience, served in public office, and resolved issues between different constituencies. He stated he was a team player who was willing to compromise. He noted that as a man of his word, the only time he could see not honoring it was if the decision was deemed illegal. He noted that to keep the public involved he would encourage public attendance and input at meetings, use the press more effectively, and solicit opinions from other elected officials. He remarked again that he would make decisions independently but on major decisions that affect other groups he would ask for input from others prior to making a final decision. He also remarked that the traits he would like to see in the Assistant Airport manager is one of experience in operations, complement the manager, have the ability to operate the airport in the managers absence, and be concerned with the policies set forth by the Airport Commission.
Frank Honey: Mr. Honey noted that he has served in a variety of capacities over the years and wanted to contribute to the community. He stated that his vision for the airport would be open and he would use his experience in other areas to help improve the operation of the airport. He noted his role should be primarily as an advisor. He noted he has spent over 40 years working in insurance, finance, and law and those skills and abilities will help him handle any problem well. He feels he is a team player but will be stubborn if necessary and he is willing to compromise but not at the expense of doing what is right. He noted he has spent a lot of time resolving conflicts and most conflicts can be resolved through communication and negotiation. He stated that he would make himself available to the media as well as to other officials to improve communications and public relations. He noted that he would not expect to go to the County for approval of his decisions as an Airport Commissioner. He also added that he believes the Assistant Airport Manager should have the same qualities of the manager as they may have to perform that job.
Ron MacLaren: Mr. MacLaren noted his background was in Health Care as a CEO of a hospital for 20 years. He has been a regular visitor to the island but now lives here and is interested in helping. He noted that he doesn’t have any specific goal for the airport and as a frequent user, he like it as it was but was willing to make improvements as needed. He wanted to review the Master plan and ensure that the strategic goals are being met to serve the needs of the community. He would be open to input from the community and would work towards improving communication between the various groups. He noted he tried to be honest with everyone in his endeavors and stated he was a man of his word. He added that his experience in management, organization, and running a hospital as well as his experience as a Navy Captain in the Navy reserve where he has other varied experiences that could be beneficial to furthering a higher goal. He also added that he was a team player and was willing to compromise. He stated that one method of keeping the public informed would be the press but also to initiate some public interact and ask for input from a variety of people and groups. He stated that he sees his role of airport commission as providing strategic vision and direction but not to be involved in the nuts and bolts of the everyday operations. He also stated that before going into a negotiation he would make sure he was aware of what he was capable of offering before making an offer to any individual. He did note that he was familiar with contract resolution and he was very flexible only because circumstances do change rapidly. He stated that the qualities he would look for in an Assistant Airport Manager and besides having basic skills in aviation operations but to also look at the individuals’ ability or potential to act as the manager in the event the manager cannot.
Donald Ogilvie: Mr. Ogilvie stated that his background makes him ideally suited for the role of Airport commissioner. He has been a pilot for many years and thinks that the airport here is great but does have room for improvement. He noted that he had experience in aviation and airport operations, general management skills with an advanced MBA, leadership skills as he serves on three national boards, and communications skills that have been developed during his 40 years of business experience. He also noted that he could not have been successful in Washington without being willing to compromise. He stated that he has hired many people over his career and stated you need to take in consideration various local factors with regards to other local entities. He added that he was a man of his word and felt it was important to honor previous agreements but also noted that there were two sides to every story. As far as he was concerned, personally a deal was a deal and before he makes a decision he will look at all the facts and try to make an objective and fair decision. He also stated that he was unfamiliar with the proposal of the jail at the airport and could not offer an opinion. He also added that he would be a little more pro-active in engaging the public in trying to get input from the community at large as well as seeking out advice from a variety of other agencies and groups on island. He stated that one of his best skills was helping to build teams of people to work together towards a goal and he would look for an individual capable of leading people to be the new Assistant Airport manager. Although he does not have a personal vision for the airport, one of his goals is to make the management of the airport more efficient. He also advised the commissioners that he did have an indirect, sublease with the airport and he did call the Ethics commission but found that he received conflicting reports about his eligibility and would recuse himself from any vote that regarded the hangers.
Nelson Smith made the motion/seconded Leonard Jason Jr. by to limit the consideration of candidates to those who were interviewed this evening and SO VOTED (6-0-0).
Peter Rogers asked if there would be a forum for input from the public and Mr. Alley stated that there would be and he introduced Arthur Allen, Chairman of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission who came down to view the process personally. Mr. Davis suggested that anyone who wanted to provide input could go to our website and email their input, fax the information to us at 508-696-3841, or contact the commissioners directly.
Composting Proposal by Jonathan Revere: Mr. Alley announced that due to the length of the interviews, Mr. Revere agreed to postpone his presentation until the next meeting.
Mr. Davis noted that the Charter Study Commission resolution was received by the State on February 14. Howard Hawk, of the Elections Division, and he reports that everything is in order and they will be mailing out the nomination papers in April. He noted that as more information is available, it will be posted on the website.
Mr. Davis also advised the Commissioners that they all received a letter from Robert Wilkens, an inmate at another Massachusetts facility, who was supposed to be assigned to our jail. He stated he turned the letter over to county council.
Mr. Davis also noted that the Trustee of Reservations contacted him and have one more person they need to evaluate the agreement before it can be completed.
Mr. Davis also asked the commissioners to authorize him to pursue and initiate revenue-generating mechanisms that do not impact the resident taxpayers of Martha’s Vineyard including a room tax and a Martha’s Vineyard license plate. Mr. Davis added that the room tax would be dedicated to operational costs and tax relief while the license plate would be dedicated to health and environment issues. The proposal was moved by Nelson Smith and seconded by Leonard Jason Jr. and SO VOTED (6-0-0). Mr. Sawyer asked about projected revenue and for each 1% of room tax would generate about $100,000 of revenue. Additionally, his research indicates that the license plate would not be competitive with the Cape and Islands license plate and not impact the revenue from that area
Noreen Mavro Flanders advised the Board that the County Advisory Board asked to postpone the joint meeting until 7pm so they could meet at 6 pm.
·The Dukes County Commissioners meet Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 5 p.m. at the Admin building.
·The County Advisory Board meets Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 6:00 pm in the Dukes County Retirement office and then joins the DCC meeting in progress at 7:00 pm in the Admin Building Meeting Room.
·The Dukes County Health Council meets Thursday, February 23, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building
·The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority meets TBD at the DCRHA building, State Road, Vineyard Haven.
·The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission meets Wednesday, March 15, 2006 5 p.m. at the General Aviation Building
With no further business, a motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Leonard Jason Jr. and SO VOTED unanimously at 8:30 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by: