A Moment Went Awry – Objections to appointments came as a surprise

It looked like a regular Town Council meeting the other night. The Council had addressed all the major issues on the agenda in an orderly fashion. There was a momentary difference of opinion when Councillor Richard Gill felt because of the volatile nature of the state’s economy and uncertainty about local aid to Winthrop, it might not be wise for the town to purchase a new front-end loader for the Department of Public Works.

But after hearing Town Manager James McKenna and DPW Director David Hickey explain that the lease (and the trade-in of the old equipment) would result in a savings for the town, Gill, to his credit, said that he found the opposing arguments “compelling,” and he joined in on the unanimous vote that followed. (For the record, we’re going to miss Richard’s majestic and stately presence on the Council when he steps down in January.)

But the Council’s camaraderie was tested in what we’ll call the bottom of the ninth inning of the meeting when Reilly brought forth the name of two members of the Planning Board, whose terms had expired, to be reappointed to that board.

Making appointments to the various boards is an important responsibility for the Council President. In virtually all instances, the Council accepts the President’s appointments and endorses his choice with a unanimous vote.

But in this case, Councillor Nicholas DelVento offered an objection to the appointments, and when one councillor objects to a nomination and vote, it is automatically moved to the next meeting. We don’t know the reason for Councillor DelVento’s objection and watching how professional and methodical he always has been in his work on the Council, we know that he must have important reasons for his action.

Though the immediate discussion of the appointments was somewhat animated, the matter now will draw some spotlight as the Council discusses and votes on President Reilly’s appointments at the next meeting.

What we’ll say for now is that even though Mr. Reilly is stepping down as Council President in January, he has the authority to make appointments until his final day in office.

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