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by Isabel Mosseler
August 19, 2020
Once again, the deadlock at council is interfering with the town being able to conduct its business, as the August 11 meeting of council was cancelled due to a four-against-four decision on how to conduct proceedings, and the September meeting is still up in the air if members cannot iron out their differences.
WN Mayor Joanne Savage issued a public statement on August 10 saying the critical meeting was being cancelled due to lack of quorum. She had insisted the meeting be held in person inside Council chambers, with those unable to attend in person communicating through videoconferencing. The Mayor stated that teleconferencing meetings were not working, with communications breaking down and listeners expressing frustration with the poor sound quality. The Mayor gave the example of a recent Planning Board meeting where members attended in person while respecting social distancing norms, and interested parties participated through teleconferencing. She noted that other municipalities had already returned to in-person meetings, and felt this would improve proceedings at council, which have been labelled “toxic and dysfunctional”.
When four council members, Leo Malette, Dan Roveda, Rolly Larabie and Chris Fisher, opted to continue operating via teleconferencing due to Covid-19, Savage decided she would not attend any phone-in meeting and was followed by councillors Lise Sénécal, Yvon Duhaime and Denis Sénécal. The absence of the four would mean the meeting could not proceed due to lack of quorum.
“Unfortunately, efforts since July 22, 2020 to change the conduct of our meetings in a different manner was not achieved and the meeting for August 11th is cancelled. The quorum was not achieved: some Council members wish to proceed strictly by telephone and some Council members preferred reconvening in person,” the Mayor wrote.
The four other councillors did not take well to the mayor’s written statement, seeming to point the finger at them for the cancellation. They provided a written response, signed by all of them, stating that the subject should have been part of a council discussion with a majority vote deciding, but rather felt like an ultimatum by the mayor saying she would boycott meetings if they were not run her way.
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