Council drama concerning clerk’s post

Somehow, you had the feeling there would be drama and intrigue as the Town Council sat down to cast the much-anticipated vote for the position of clerk to the  council Tuesday night. The point of contention, at the last moment no less, was that some councilors wanted to make the appointment a provisional one, meaning the new clerk to the council would be subject to a 90-day trial period at which time the council would evaluate the clerk’s performance and determine if they wanted the new clerk to continue to serve the remainder of the three-year term.

Town Council President Jeffrey Turco said he had received a legal opinion from the town counsel (Kopelman and Paige) that a 90-day trial period was legal. But Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore wasn’t having any of that, saying that the charter cited that the position was an “elected” one and thus not required to have a probationary period as town employees and many employees in the business world are subject to. Boncore’s quiet but effective style in raising the point made it all the more convincing. The well-known attorney and long-time pubic official wasn’t going to get in any unnecessary exchanges because quite frankly, he had the charter on his side and he knew it. (Not to mention, while 90 days seems like a lot on paper, a clerk of the council only participates in approximately six meetings in 90 days since meetings are held every other week.)

Sure enough, President Turco announced that the motion for a 90-day trial period was “out of order” and ruled that the new clerk to the council would serve the final 2 ´ years of the term. And in the final saga of this process, the vote couldn’t have been any closer. It took three ballots before Leighanne Strangie prevailed by a 5-4 vote to become the new clerk to the council.

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