Town council criticizes actions at June meeting
Feeling Mayor Nancy Anderson stepped over the line with her comments at a recent meeting, the Weddington Town Council censured her on Monday, July 11. The vote was 2 to 1, with Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry in opposition. Council member Robert Gilmartin had left the meeting prior to the vote.
A censure is a formal reprimand, either done in written or verbal form, from a governing body to a public official. There are no penalties involved, as it mainly serves as nothing more than a verbal expression of the board’s feelings.
The issue for council members Werner Thomisser and Jerry McKee was how Anderson responded to the council’s unanimous vote June 13 to remove $450,000 from the budget, money that had been earmarked to pay for upgrades at the Providence fire station.
After the June 13 vote, Anderson criticized the council, saying she was embarrassed they would find the money to pay for Ipads and streetlights, but not the fire department’s request. After calling a recess, Anderson walked outside, where she could be heard loudly criticizing the decision.
“I think Mayor Anderson stepped over the line,” Thomisser said during the July 11 meeting. “To me, it was a loss of emotional control. I believe this council does believe in public safety and has nothing to be ashamed about.”
Pointing out the council vote to remove the $450,000 was unanimous, Thomisser said the town needed more information from Providence before committing to such a large expense. He and fellow member McKee took offense at the mayor’s response.
“I was quite taken back by the mayor’s reaction,” McKee said. “The mayor and myself have disagreed on a number of subjects. The reaction did embarrass me.”
The problem for McKee wasn’t the criticism itself, but how the mayor went about it, he said. Yelling about a council decision next to an open door was the problem.
Fellow council member Barry said he didn’t see the need for a censure vote, asking the attorney if it was even legal.
“We have a right to disagree, we don’t have a right to make it personal,” Barry said, adding that the prior June 13 meeting had been very heated.
Town attorney Anthony Fox said the board didn’t have a specific authority to do so under Robert’s Rules of Order. However because the town’s rules of order doesn’t always follow Robert’s Rules, the board was allowed to issue the censure.
“I was very angry, I was very upset,” Anderson said of the June 13 vote. “I am still embarrassed by the outcome (and) I make no apologies for my position.”
One of the problems, Anderson said, is that she believes Thomisser, in his first term of office, was not used to getting questioned about votes he took or statistics he used. Thomisser had come before the council many times as a private citizen, speaking during public comment, but without response from the council.
“When you’re on this side of the table, it’s not just my right but my responsibility to get my questions answered,” Anderson said. She apologized if anyone took her comments personally, but said she stood by her concerns.
“Monday night’s meeting just reinforced my convictions that I held on June 13,” Anderson said. “If anyone needs to apologize, it’s the council for what I see as bad governance.”
Thomisser meanwhile felt the mayor’s criticism was unwarranted, feeling that yelling outside of a meeting hall, with an open door, earned a censure.
“We discussed a major issue, we spend an awful lot of time researching these issues and make our decision based on the facts,” Thomisser said. “You don’t always prevail. When you lose a vote 4 to 0, that delivers a pretty good message.”