Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Leslie Leland called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:10 p.m. Commissioners Roger Wey, Tristan Israel, John Alley, Leonard Jason, Jr. and Carlene Gatting were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, candidates: Christopher Knowles, Melinda Loberg, Jesse Law, Stephanie Michalczyk, Charter Study Commission members: Woody Williams, Jeff Kristal, Tad Crawford, Tim Connelly, Christina Miller of Friends of Sengecontacket, Emily Reddington of Costal Waterbird Program, Audubon, Margaret Logue, Alexander Towbridge of a Vineyard Gazette, and Joanie Ames of MVTV.
Welcome Martina Thornton
Russell Smith publicly welcomes the new Executive Assistant Martina Thornton. She comes from Edgartown; she has a degree in law and was in a group of 21 people who applied for the position. The County Personnel Board pared it down to 6 candidates, who were interviewed by Les Leland and Russell Smith. This is her second week; she is very knowledgeable and competent.
Tristan Israel / Roger Wey Moved to approve the minutes of July 23, 2008, So Voted, in favor: Israel, Leland, Wey, Gatting, abstained: Jason, Alley (4-0-2).
Tristan Israel / Roger Wey Moved to approve the minutes of June 19, 2008, So Voted, in favor: Leland, Wey, Israel, Jason, Gatting, abstained: Alley (5-0-1).
Tristan Israel / John Alley Moved to approve the minutes of June 11, 2008, So Voted, in favor: Leland, Israel, Gatting, Alley, Jason; abstained Wey (5-0-1).
Tristan Israel / Roger Wey Moved to approve the minutes of May 14, 2008, So Voted, unanimous (6-0-0).
The County Clerk Joseph Sollitto, Jr. joined the meeting at 5:14pm.
Public Hearing on the Joseph Sylvia State Beach Rules
Carlene stated that we had a public hearing in July after publishing the proposed Rules. We reviewed the Rules in response to a large number of requests for a permit for special events on State Beach. We revised the Rules to require a permit for gatherings of 50 people or more, instead of the originally proposed 20 to 40 people. The issuance of the permit will be at the discretion of the County Manager. There will be no requirement of porta potties or traffic detail, but if it is a large gathering with food and drinks the County Manager may impose these and additional requirements. If there is a question in the County Manager’s decision it will go before the County Beach Sub-committee. We welcome any new public comments or questions at this time to the revised Rules. Christina Miller from the Friends of Sengekontacket had no further
questions. Russell commented that all the other rules stay the same. What triggers the requirement for a permit regardless of the number of people is any commercial activity, including catered parties and renting tents. Tristan’s comment was that he likes the Rules because they are simple. Russell had no issue deferring the vote based on the fact that someone may see it on TV and may have questions or comments. The Rules are done as far as the Beach Committee is concerned. Lenny asked if we set up an area for the kite surfing. Russell answered “yes, we did set up an area at the Sengekontacket Pond north of Felix Neck that is away from the nesting area based on the Audubon’s recommendations, which seems to be the area that they are using already, but we did not put the signs up yet”. There is a prohibition of kite surfing on State Beach. Emily Reddington from the Costal Waterbird Program asked if there is a rule prohibiting fireworks in the general rules.
Russell agreed that we need to include it in the general portion of the Rules.
Israel / Gatting Moved to approve the Rules & Regulations as presented with an addition of prohibition of fireworks in the general portion of the rules. Yeas- Israel, Leland, Wey, Gatting; nays – Jason, Alley.
County Manager’s Report – Russell Smith
I have a new Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, which is a big news for me. We were able to locate the mailing list and notified people who were being notified before about this meeting. We also changed the County website so that only I, Martina and Chuck Cotnoir have the passwords and the ability to manipulate the website and update it as needed.
We submitted an application for a $30,000 grant to the Department of Conservation & Recreation for our beach activities. We expect no problems in continuing this third year of five-year program. We spent the grant money last year as documented. We had a report done by the Woods Hole Group in conjunction with the Friends of Sengekontacket, which outlines number of actions we should be taking in the next couple of years. We met to prioritize the actions in regards to emergency management aspects regarding the possibility of storm damage to the beach.
Tristan Israel asked Russell if the legislative changes we need to make in order to follow the Charter Study Commission’s Recommendations are being prepared. Russell said he asked the house counsel for review. There are two issues being addressed. One is the change of the Mass General Law pertaining to the term, which the County Manager serves – to be changed from the “indefinite term” to “serves at the pleasure of the Board”. The second is the residency requirement that we would like to add. . The counsel suggested what the wording should be, since then there was couple of comments how to change it. Lenny asked if we know how to include the recall of a Commissioner into our Charter. Russell said no. Lenny said there is nothing in the Administrative Code about it but he knows that some towns like Tisbury
did amend their Administrative Code to be able to recall a Selectman. Joe Sollitto asked if there is a State Statute about recall of a Commissioner that would apply if there were no recall in the Charter. Les said that we would look into it. Russell agreed with Lenny that the Administrative Code is silent to it.
Russell pointed out the Advertisement for the Ag Fair with the dates. The County will have a booth there and the County Commissioners are welcome to spend some time at the booth.
Chairman’s Report – Les Leland
Per Treasurer’s request Les presented two motions:
Motion that the County Commissioners vote to authorize the County Treasurer to borrow funds not to exceed $500,000 in anticipation of revenue, in accordance with the Mass. G.L. Chapter 35, Section 37. Tristan Israel moved it, John Alley seconded. Carlene asked if this is something we did in the past and usually do. Les answered yes, we do this every year. Noreen commented that this is only an authorization to borrow if necessary because the money from the towns and the state do not come until later – the first half of the bill to the towns is not due until November 1st (the second is due
May 1st) and the money for the Sheriff’s Department does not come usually until October or November. She did not have to borrow money last year; she had to do it the year before but not in previous four years. If she has to borrow, she cannot wait until the next commissioner’s meeting to ask for the permission. Voted, unanimous (6-0-0).
Motion that the County Commissioners vote to authorize the Airport Commission and Airport Manager to maintain a revolving fund for the sale of aviation fuel in accordance with Chapter 57 of the Acts and Resolutions of 1992. John Alley moved. Tristan Israel seconded. Noreen explained that this is based on special legislation regarding the fuel revolving account and it is required to be authorized by the commissioners’ on a yearly basis in order to continue operating the account. Voted, unanimous (6-0-0).
Interview of Applicants for the unexpired term of Commissioner Paul Strauss
Les said that the commissioners are very pleased to have four individuals that expressed their interest in filling the unexpired term of the County Commissioner Paul Strauss and asked each applicant to give a brief synopsis of their background and reasons for seeking this appointment.
I. Christopher Knowles
-Resident of Tisbury since 1991
-Wife Mary is a teacher with Project Headway, two children in college
-He is Special Projects Manager for Martha's Vineyard Hospital; he has extensive experience with grant writing
· Director of the Visiting Nurse Service of Martha's Vineyard Community Services for 13 years (25 years in health care all together)
· Worked as a planner at the city, county and state level (Regional Planner for city of Lincoln, NB and Lancaster County, Environmental Resources Planner for the Iowa Natural Resource Council, Environmental Planner for the Maryland Environmental Trust)
- Master’s Degree in Public Administration, also studied engineering and economics at undergraduate level, economics at doctoral level
- 4 years of active duty in the Air Force during the Vietnam War
- He believes that the two skills a Commissioner needs are 1. Ability to look at every issue as it affects the entire County rather than from the point of view as one town or one interest group. 2. Exercising common sense.
Roger asked why Mr. Knowles wants to be a County Commissioner. Mr. Knowles stated that he worked with the County Commissioners since 1995 when he helped to create the Dukes County Health Council. He feels that as a result of the Charter Study Commission’s work the Commissioners and the system has an opportunity to be revitalized, legitimized and he would like to be a part of that.
Lenny asked if Mr. Knowles had read the Charter and the Charter Study Recommendations and what he would add. Mr. Knowles said he read part of the Charter and all of the Recommendations. He was struck more by what was left unchanged then what was changed, he did not see the drastic changes that he was expecting. It was more of a fine-tuning only.
Tristan asked what areas would he like to see the County strengthen on a regional basis. Mr. Knowles felt that the Dukes Health Council which he helped create did bring benefits and so did the Public Health Committee created under Dr. Klein. He was a member of the Committee that did extensive analyses of public health system on the island and presented a report. Mr. Knowles feels that if the group gets back together, the County could play a role in addressing recognized public health issues and raise awareness.
II. Jesse “Jack” Law
Lived in Oak Bluffs since 1973 (35 years). History of his service to the Town of Oak Bluffs:
1974 - 1985 member of the Finance committee
1976 – 1986 special police officer
1978 – member of the Personnel Study Committee – developed the Personnel Board
1985 – Selectman – served two terms
1991 – appointed as an Assessor, which position he still holds
He is an elected Cemetery Commissioner.
2000 – 2007 appointed to the Resident Home Site Committee (now Affordable Housing Committee)
2003 – appointed to the Airport Commission
President of the M.V. Touch Down Club, which is a booster club for football.
Also has served on the Board of the Visiting Nurse Association for approx. 8 years now.
Roger asked why he wants to be a commissioner. Mr. Law said he would like to take his public service a step further. He also feels that because Paul Strauss was an Oak Bluffs resident and that when Roger leaves in January it would leave Oak Bluffs unrepresented on the County Commission.
Lenny asked if Mr. Law has read the Charter, the Charter Study Recommendations, and if he agrees with them. If not, what recommendations would he change. Mr. Law said he read the Charter and most of the Recommendations and he agrees with them for the most part. He can not say what he would change as he was not on the Commission.
Tristan asked what areas of regional interest would Mr. Law try to introduce to the Board if he was a County Commissioner. Mr. Law said he would like to get some more regional services to the towns as the towns are under such restraints (like regional assessor).
III. Melinda Loberg
-has lived on the island for last 9 years, summered here her entire life
-retired School Counsel and Mediator
-member of the Tisbury Waterways, Inc., the Water Alliance,
-appointed to the Lagoon Pond Bridge Committee
-worked on the Island Blue Pages, Island Plan and Water Sub-committee
-she is an EMT, she was Secretary of the EMT Association and as such she also attended the Dukes County Health Council meetings and has great respect for the Health Access Program
-appointed Chair of the Tashmoo Management Committee
-member of the Harbor Management Committee
-served on the Embarkation Fee Committee last year
-elected member of the Tisbury Finance Committee where she has served for 3 years.
She has focused on volunteer work on the island. Ms. Loberg sees that everything is interconnected here and cannot solve problems in one area without being exposed to and enticed to work on others. We all have the responsibility to step up and work to resolve the local issues locally. She was concerned that the Charter Study was exploring the idea of dissolving the County, because she feels that local government touches us most and it is better than a government from a greater distance.
Roger asked why Ms. Loberg wants to be a county commissioner. Ms. Loberg feels that the County is where the opportunities lay for the island. The Towns are pushed to their limit budget wise and resource wise. It would be good if the County could provide some services in a more cost effective way.
Lenny asked if she read the Charter, the Charter Study Recommendations and if she agrees with the Recommendations and what would she add to it. Ms. Loberg said she read it all and she agrees with the Recommendations for the most part. The only question she raised was the simultaneous election of all the Commissioners. She likes the value of overlap and the counsel of people who have been around for a while. She would make the same kind of recommendations – we definitely need to keep the County and not let some of the resources go back to the State, but she also feels that we need to strengthen the appointment process. She could not think of any other additions.
Tristan asked what areas of regional interest other then water quality she would like to get involved in as a Commissioner. Ms. Loberg liked the idea about health care and public health. She also feels that the County can play a role in regional wastewater management, trash disposal and composting.
IV. Stephanie Michalczyk
-Ms. Michalczyk is a substitute teacher and gardener
-she has been on the island for 2 years and she has been here in the summer for more then 50 years
-she has been volunteering in the M.V. CMA Campgrounds and has worked in the Museum there for about 13 summers
Ms. Michalczyk could think of lots of problems where the island needs to act as a unit and the County should help the towns to coordinate things.
Roger asked why she wants to be a Commissioner. Ms. Michalczyk would like to see all gardening be done in organic, non-pesticide, and non-fungicidal way. It is important for the County to consider the water shed situation into Sengekontacket Pond. She does not like to see people with money taking advantage of all the hard work that the conservation people did, by putting houses in places line the big new house on Sengekontacket.
Tristan asked what regional initiatives would she introduce or advocate to the Board being a County Commissioner. Ms. Michalczyk thinks all high school students should have some kind of helping training (like red cross). She likes the idea of parking fee on State Beach, but not for islanders. She questioned if the County has any say in limiting the number of cars on the island. May be only people who have homes here can bring their cars to the island. The County should sponsor more public transportation to lessen the traffic. People with homes that are heated and empty in the winter should sign some agreement that if there is a disaster and need, the house can be used.
Lenny asked if she read the Charter and Charter Study Recommendations. Stephanie’s answer was no. She likes the continuity of the Commissioners better. She thinks the Manager should have more then one assistant.
Noreen asked all the candidates how would they fund the new regional activities that they are proposing to introduce to the Board.
Mr. Knowles feels there is no shortage of resources in healthcare; there was a shortage of communication and the cost of healthcare on the island could be reduced by, as much as 10% if the Health Council encourages co-operation and it would fund itself. Noreen questioned how it would fund itself. Mr. Knowles answered that the County would serve as a facilitator, it will not help the bottom line of the County, but it will lessen the expenses of the citizens of the County.
Mr. Law said that towns are scrambling for funds, the County is scrambling for funds and the way they get it is by raising fees. It is a tough question, whether to increase the parking fees, parking fines and the rent.
Ms. Loberg feels that regarding the waste disposal, we pay to dispose of the waste now and she feels that savings can be realized if new technologies are used in a co-operative manner and if the towns trust the central entity in this matter and pay for that service.
Ms. Michalczyk thinks that we just have to ask for it. There are people with money on this island and if they feel that it is an interesting idea they will donate to or participate in it. She feels that the County needs to lead more to these ideas.
Alex Towbridge from the Vineyard Gazette asked if the Commissioners are involved in grant writing and if they are allowed to participate and could Mr. Knowles utilize his extensive experience in grant writing? Mr. Knowles answered that he has the experience in both health care and environmental grant writing. He could help locate the need and navigate through the process of identifying the potential grants. Tristan answered yes, the Commissioners can and have done that.
Ted Stanley asked if any of the candidates are planning on running in the fall. Chris answered no. Jesse said he would consider the sticker campaign. Melinda said yes, she would do the sticker campaign. Stephanie said maybe.
Woody Williams commented that although he never met Melinda until today, she is very familiar with number of issues that are important to him, she read the Charter and the Charter Recommendations, she is familiar with the island climate and the Lagoon Bridge Committee; and she has plans to run. So if he were Commissioner he would vote for her.
Israel / Gatting Moved to closed the public portion of the process. So voted, unanimous (6-0-0).
Vote for a new County Commissioner to fill in the unexpired term of Paul Strauss
Russell Smith noted that the Administrative Code requires that all 6 Commissioners and the County Clerk vote for the candidate to fill the unexpired term and it must be done by majority of the vote. The Code is silent on how we get to the majority vote. After discussions with the County Counsel, Joe Sollitto, Les Leland and Noreen we thought it would be done by ballot since the vote must be public. Please put your name on the ballots presented to you. If none of the 4 candidates gets 4 votes, the one who gets 3 votes in a 3-2-2 scenario, will be considered a finalist and we will vote on the other two subsequently to get the second finalist and then vote on the two finalists to get to the majority of 4 votes for one.
The Commissioners voted and handed their ballots to the Manager, who announced the results. Mr. Law received 3 votes from Roger Wey, Les Leland and Joe Sollitto. Melinda Loberg received 4 votes from Carlene Gatting, Lenny Jason, Tristan Israel and John Alley.
Joe Sollitto/ Roger Wey Moved to change the votes of the remaining three Commissioners to vote for Melinda Loberg so, she receives a unanimous vote. So voted, unanimous (6-0-0)
Joe Sollitto asked Ms. Loberg if she could come to the Courthouse the next day at 9am so he could swear her in.
The Commissioners adjourned the meeting at 6.30 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts