At the June 30th City Council Meeting, Councilor Stefanini, Chair of the Ordinance and Rules Subcommittee (Members: Stefanini, Bryant, Ottaviani) made a Motion to approve amendments to the General By-law, Article 1, Section 5. The Subcommittee had voted unanimously that going forward, appointed and elected officials would not be allowed to hold more than one position. Councilor King, elected to Edgell Grove Cemetery Trustees, and Councilor Leombruno, appointed by Governor Baker to the Framingham Housing Authority, would be grandfathered since they were already on these boards when they were elected to the Council.
Steiner made an alternate motion which was different from Councilor Stefanini’s in only one regard. It would force King and Leombruno to resign from positions they have held for many years. After a prolonged discussion about the reputation the Council has for not working as a team or showing willingness to collaborate, Chairman King called for the vote on Substitute and then the Main Motion. This is when things truly degenerated. To better understand this, watch the meeting.
The following is a transcript:
King explained there would be 2 motions to vote on – first to allow Mr. Steiner’s motion to substitute for Stefanini’s original motion. After it passed, there was another roll call vote for the new Main Motion (by Steiner) which would affect just 2 Councilors.
1:29:30 (hr:min:sec in) Mr. King “The vote now comes on the Main Motion which is now the substituted motion.” He then began the roll call vote.
1:29:55 “The Main Motion . . .Ms. Bryant?”
1:30:05 Bryant “Point of Information?” King “Ms. Bryant, no, I’m taking a vote. Ms. Bryant, your vote?” Bryant “I’m sorry, I thought . . .never mind. I’ll ask later . . . Point of information.” King “It has to be about the vote.” Bryant “O.K. No . . . it was . . . no I’ll wait.” King “O.K. Thank you, so I’m going to take your vote now Ms. Bryant.” Bryant “Are we voting on. . . um, uh?” King “The substituted Main Motion we’re voting on.” Bryant “No, oh wait . . . the substituted one. No, you saying Mr. Steiner’s or . . . ?” King, “The Main Motion is, yes the Main Motion as substituted. Yes or No?” Bryant “wait . . . I need clarity. I thought I already voted on the Steiner one.” Mr. King “Yes, that was the Amendment. Now we have to still vote the Main Motion.” Bryant “O.K. I say NO.”
1:30:58 King “Mr. Ottaviani?”
1:30:59 Steiner [interrupting] “Wait can you . . .DID SHE SAY NO or YES?”
1:31:01 King “She voted NO on the Main Motion.”
1:31:02 King “Mr. Ottaviani?” “NO”. [Leombruno recused herself.]
1:31:05 Bryant [interrupting] “I voted NO on the Main Motion.”
1:31:18 King “Mr. Steiner?” Steiner “Point of Information. Maybe I’m confused but I thought the Main Motion now is basically for one that I proposed.” King “That’s correct.” Mr. King once again reviewed the reason for 2 votes.
1:32:35 The vote for Steiner’s motion failed but Bryant, interrupting, asked again why she had to vote 2 times. King again explained this to her.
1:35:25 A motion was made by Bryant to reconsider the vote. It passed and Bryant reversed her vote, so Steiner’s motion passed. These 6 Councilors voted in favor of Steiner’s Motion: Steiner, Long, Stewart-Morales, Case, Bryant, and Shepard.
1:37:33 King “Mr. Steiner, discussion?” Steiner “I just don’t understand why. Are we intentionally trying to confuse people? Like . . . I think it’s clear that folks’ intent was . . . and honestly . . . I’m . . . we talk about working together. If people vote and they realize that right after . . . I don’t know why you wouldn’t give them the opportunity to fix that when it wasn’t clear. So I just . . . we want to go to what people’s intent is . . . right?” (Note: this statement by Steiner makes no sense: “If people vote and they realize that right after.”)
1:38:03 King “Is that directed at me?”
1:38:06 Steiner “NO! It’s directed at the last motion. I don’t know why we’re. . . let’s just vote on this thing and move on. We’ve got other important things on our agenda!”
Councilor Steiner made this comment after he and his team wasted over an hour of valuable City Council time and disrespected the ever-patient Council Chair.
Why was Steiner so certain that Bryant was going to switch the vote she made as a member of the Rules Subcommittee and vote for his motion instead? How could he ever suggest that the Chair was not being fair to Bryant? It is beyond comprehension how Councilor King maintained his composure during this tortuous hour of rude and unprofessional behavior by Councilors who were clearly playing petty politics. Do these Councilors not understand that the public elected them to represent us and not their personal political goals? Steiner and Bryant owe Councilor King a public apology.
A By-law change requires 2 rounds of votes so there will be a second vote at the next CC meeting. It is probably foolish, but I dare to hope that one of the 6 Councilors who unfailingly vote as a block will change their vote on this issue and demonstrate a willingness to work collaboratively with their fellow Councilors.
Former District 8 City Councilor