DUKES COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
May 2, 2007, 5 p.m.
Call to order
Chairman Paul Strauss called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. A quorum was present. Commissioners Carlene Gatting, Tristan Israel, Lenny Jason, Les Leland, John Alley and Roger Wey were present as well as County Manager E. Winn Davis.
Other representatives or visitors present included County Emergency Management Director Chuck Cotnoir, Janet Hefler, Peter Hefler, Mev Good, Woody Williams, Ted Stanley and MVTV.
It was MOVED to accept the Minutes of April 18, 2007, SO VOTED (5-0-2) John Alley and Les Leland abstained.
Chairman’s Report & Communication
Paul Strauss announced he would like to discuss the standard of conduct that is expected at the Commissioners’ meetings. He referred to some activities of Woody Williams that took place 3 weeks ago. He said that it is not a personal discussion about Woody, but more of an example of behavior. Paul said Woody made a comment that insulted a member of the Commission and later disrupted the meeting. Paul said after that meeting he felt it was important to discuss the type of behavior that was expected at the meetings. Paul repeated that the conversation was about standards of conduct not Woody. Paul referred to MGL Chapter 34 Section 13. He said that if anyone disrupts the meetings, he would request that the Sheriff remove that person from the meeting. Paul said it is part of the existing
standards and is not asking for anything additional. He said he expects everyone to be civil toward each other.
Les Leland said he would like to make a comment. Paul said there would be no discussion. He explained that those were his comments and chose not to have any discussion on the subject now.
Tristan Israel and Carlene Gatting asked to have the topic be put on a future agenda. Paul agreed and said that it would be best for everyone to have an opportunity to think about it before they have a discussion.
Paul Strauss invited Woody Williams to participate during that future discussion.
County Manager’s Report
Winn Davis provided a statement and update regarding the Norton Point Beach Breach (see attached).
The Commissioners provided their comments as follows:
Roger Wey asked for a copy of the statement that Winn read. He also asked why Norton Point was not discussed at the last County Commissioners Meeting. He felt it would have been appropriate to be discussed with the Commissioners. Winn replied that he had sent two emails to the Commissioners informing them of his actions. He said at that point there was no controversy associated with it. Roger repeated that he felt the Commissioners input would have been appropriate. He also expressed concern that the Edgartown Public Officials, especially the Selectmen should have been notified at the beginning and have been invited to the meeting. Winn Davis said he did contact them the day he received notice of the day the meeting was going to be held. He also said that he contacted Pam Dolby, Town of
Edgartown’s Administrator and left a message saying anyone who was interested was invited to attend. Roger pointed out that his concern was in the area of communication. He said it was something that had been discussed before and is where the County has fallen short in the past.
Lenny Jason said the way he saw it, the County Manager took an opportunity to save the taxpayers some money. He explained that if the taxpayers did not want to take advantage of it, then the County did not have to take the money. Lenny expressed he did not think any damage had been done and it was the right course of action.
John Alley said he thought the County Manager did his job. He felt the Commission could have had the same discussion if the County Manager did not act.
Les Leland voiced concern about the process. He said the process is that the County Manager is to present ideas to the County Commissioners for discussion. He did not see that done. He felt phone calls to the Commissioners would have been appropriate. He also felt there should have been an attempt to convene the Commissioners to discuss the issue and get input. Les said that submitting the Statement of Loss was fine, but making statements regarding what the potential outcomes could be was not appropriate. He feels it is essential to follow the process. He also felt that the County Manager gave misleading information regarding consulting Chris Kennedy. Les said he did not have a problem with the submission, but more of how it happened. He said he was also bothered by the quotes in the
paper. Les stated that there should be more consultation, especially first with his bosses.
Carlene Gatting voiced that on one hand she agreed with Lenny Jason and John Alley that the County Manager did his job. She said if he had not submitted the statement the Commissioners would have been criticizing him for not acting in a timely manner. From a procedural basis, she would have liked to have the Commissioners more involved in the process. She felt that declaring a disaster and seeking Federal Funds is a serious policy decision. She felt the Commissioners could have been more sensitive to some of the issues that evolved. At that point Carlene said wanted to move past the process and procedural issues and concentrate on what is going to be done. She said that filling the breach would be impossible, but if Federal Funds were available that looking at safety exit plans for Chappy or working with
the Chappy Ferry could be possibilities. Carlene wanted to make it clear to the public that it is not the intention of the County Commissioners to try to attempt to fill the breach or build a bridge. She would like to focus on discussing safety issues at Norton Point Beach Breach. Carlene recommended addressing the safety issues with the Trustees of Reservations, Edgartown Harbor Master, Edgartown Conservation Commission, Sheriff’s Dept, and the Coast Guard.
Tristan Israel said the first email he received from the County Manager was a short email. He responded “Good” because he was supportive of exploring options. He said there was a discussion at the previous County Commission meeting where the funds were discussed. Tristan said in the future he would prefer a phone call regarding important issues. He said he does not get to read his email until late at night. Tristan said he was not aware of the issues concerning the funding. He said he did mention during the previous meeting that he thought the Town of Edgartown and the Trustees of Reservations should take the lead in the matter. He felt it was not appropriate for the County to take the lead. Tristan said he understood that the County Manager was making decisions under a time
deadline, but would have preferred the County Commissioners been more involved. Tristan wanted to move forward. He had concerns regarding safety. He felt that any grant monies received should go directly towards things that are specifically related to the breach.
Lenny Jason said that the Commissioners should find out what the money could be spent on. He agreed that there should be discussions with the Conservation Dept.
Winn Davis explained that the President has to make the declaration. He said all six New England states put in for the disaster relief funds for the same storm. Once the declaration is made, FEMA and NEMA would return to look at the different proposals.
Roger Wey asked if there had been meetings set up with the Edgartown Officials. Winn Davis said no, because he has no idea if the money would be awarded. Roger explained that there should be discussions now. He thinks it would be a good idea to start the process as soon as possible, especially to mend some of the fences.
Lenny Jason said it is important to speak with the Sheriff and Edgartown Police regarding safety. Carlene agreed and said that the meeting could not wait and should be done as soon as possible. Tristan agreed, but recommended that the Edgartown Selectmen should hold the meeting. He said it should be done as a partnership with the Town.
Chuck Cotnoir said that the first people he involved were the Emergency Manager and Fire Chief of Edgartown. Roger Wey pointed out that the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen is the one responsible for Emergency Issues in each town. He said that is who should have been contacted.
Ted Stanley asked what the County would be doing if there was no money. Lenny Jason responded that the Commissioners would still be trying to secure the area. Carlene Gatting answered that the Commission would be doing the same thing it is doing now. Ted Stanley said he was wondering if because there was money the County is going to go and grab it. Tristan Israel responded that if money were available that would go directly to what the storm impacted then he is in favor of it. However if the money were not going to be used for something directly related to the storm then he would be opposed to obtaining the funds. Carlene Gatting said it was not the intention of the Commission to obtain funds and to use it for something other then things related to the situation of the breach.
Tristan Israel pointed out the letters of praise from the West Tisbury School and Jane Varconda regarding the Rodent Control Officer.
Woody Williams wanted it to be noted for the record that even though Paul Strauss was not referring to Woody, he disagrees with Paul’s statements. Woody said he welcomes the chance to discuss it further. Paul said that he would make sure it gets on a future agenda.
Lenny Jason said he wanted to discuss process. He said that the County Manager, Chairman, or County Commissioners could make a declaration of a “disaster”. Paul Strauss said there is a disagreement on what the rules or laws are regarding that. Winn Davis said that only the Chairman could make that declaration. It does not require the vote of the Commission. He said that the process issue should be addressed.
· Letter from West Tisbury School RE: TJ Hegarty, Rodent Control Officer
· Newsletter from Pilgrim RC&D
· The Dukes County Retirement Board will meet on Tuesday, May 8th, at 10 am at the County Administration Building
· The Dukes County Charter Study Commission meets May 10th, at 5 p.m. at the VTA Administration Building.
· The Dukes County Airport Commission will meet on Wednesday, May 16th, at 5:30 p.m. at the Airport Administration Building.
· The Dukes County Commissioners will meet on Wednesday May 9th, at 5pm at the County Administration Building.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned the meeting at 6:00 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts