Bay Bulls Mayor aims to silence the public gallery

   Some of the changes forced upon Bay Bulls council last month by councillor Joan Luby and members of the public were put into effect Tuesday, but it was clear Mayor Patrick O'Driscoll wasn't pleased about it.
   At September's public council meeting, Luby put forward motions that the town's monthly spending report be included in the agenda for public viewing and also asked that cel phone use by councillors be banned during council meetings. She made the latter request based on having witnessed a councillor taking a text message from another councillor who had left the chamber because of a conflict of interest, she said. Members of the public, meanwhile, complained that at nearly every public council meeting, Mayor O'Driscoll closes the session during the middle of proceedings and orders a privileged session, in some cases leaving the public waiting outside the chamber door for as long as an hour for the public session to resume.
   At Tuesday's public meeting, council held its privileged session ahead of the public meeting - and also included the list of accounts detailing where the town spent taxpayers' money in the past month. But there was also a printed warning left on every seat in the public gallery warning people they are not allowed to talk or engage with council during meetings.
That was followed by a verbal warning from the mayor once council entered the chamber to start the public proceedings.
   "Before we start I want to advise those in the audience there will be no discussion from the gallery during any part of the meeting,” O'Driscoll said. "Unless I address you or have got a question based on your application or whatever you've got on the agenda, we're not going to allow any discussions from the gallery... The last few meetings we've gotten out of hand and it's not going to be tolerated going forward. I ask for your cooperation. If I don't get it you'll be asked to leave ... we'll get the RCMP and they'll escort you out. We need to get through the meeting and the audience is not supposed to influence the discussion of councillors."
No other councillor addressed the mayor's statement. Luby was absent from the public meeting, as was councillor Madonna Hawkins.
   The ban on public speaking includes the use of cel phones during meetings. But they can be used in emergency situations, O'Driscoll said.

Boundary expansion

   In other council business, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Keith Hutchings, has responded to the town's request to expand its boundaries by writing back and asking for more information and a letter outlining council's rationale for the expansion, O'Driscoll said.
   "I'll make a motion to ask our Town Planner Reg Garland to do up the map for that and council can provide the letter giving the rationale," he said.
   Deputy Mayor Harold Mullowney seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Road work concerns

   Council has received a petition from residents of Track Road Extension about the upgrades that were done on the street this past summer. Mayor O'Driscoll said the residents have concerns about the "work that was done."
   Councillor Jason Sullivan noted the town's engineer has compiled a list of deficiencies to be taken up with the contractor, Weir's Construction.
   Councillor Rick Oxford asked if any of the holdover money has been paid to the contractor.
"There's been no monies paid," said the mayor. "Basically our engineer is working with their's to negotiate the issues. When a plan is in place we'll be advised."
   O'Driscoll made a motion that a letter be sent to the residents advising that the engineer has been on site to review the work and is working with Weir's to address the concerns.

Posted on October 14, 2015 .