Letter of complaint to Cavendish Selectboard seeks for Ripley recusal

CAVENDISH, Vt. – A Tierney Road resident sent a letter of complaint to Cavendish Town Manager Brendan McNamara and the Cavendish Selectboard following the Jan. 13 Selectboard meeting after board member Michael Ripley shut down discussion on the Tierney Road quarry despite the subject being warned as an item on the agenda.

In the letter of complaint, Tierney Road resident Linda Watson stated: “Mr. Ripley displayed behaviors that clearly show his bias and conflict of interest in hearing anything related to the Savage quarry issue.”

Watson then called for Ripley to recuse himself from any future quarry discussions or votes.

During the Jan. 13 meeting, Ripley stopped Tierney Road resident Michael Harrington after speaking just over one minute concerning information he wanted on the public record about recent legal filings relating to the quarry. In stopping Harrington from talking further, Ripley recommend that the Selectboard adhere more strictly to Robert’s Rules of Order, which would require all discussion to be addressed to the board chairman, in this case Robert Glidden, as well as refraining from personal remarks. Ripley also termed Harrington’s remarks irrelevant and characterized his remarks as “childish.”

Harrington later commented, “Clearly I was disappointed that a member of the board would be so dismissive and not willing information read into the public record.”

As a matter of note, Roberts Rules allows for public comment, uninterrupted, for a period of time set by the board. Parliamentary procedure also allows for the public to make harsh or critical remarks and the board chair should not enter into back and forth debate with the public.

Sandra Russo, speaking at the end of the Jan. 13 meeting, admitted that she felt uncomfortable that the board did not allow Harrington to speak for at least 10 minutes.

Although the quarry will not be an agenda item at the February meeting, according to McNamara, procedures for meetings and acknowledgement of the letter will likely be discussed. McNamara said that recusal would be up to Ripley.

Michael Ripley confirmed that he had received the letter of complaint but had “no comment” when asked if he would recuse himself.

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