Special Hainesport Township Meeting Feb 28 2017

Special Hainesport Township Meeting
A Pickleball Game in Florida

The main purpose of this Special Hainesport Township Meeting was to enable the Committee to interview three candidates for the Administrator/Clerk position in Executive Session. In addition, there was one piece of business concerning the Pickleball Court, Public Comment, and Committee Comment.

Change Order for Pickleball Contract

This was first raised at the previous meeting. Former Administrator Leo Selb had authorized a change order to the contract for the Pickleball Courts without consultation with the Committee. The issue was that the plans  had allowed for a topsoil depth of six inches, when the actual topsoil depth was two feet. When the construction team discovered this they requested the change order. Although the change order was not properly authorized, the Committee agreed that the work had been necessary to ensure the courts met standards, and that Command Co. LLC had carried it out. Therefore Committeeman Fitzpatrick moved to pay the bill, and all agreed.

Public Comment

  • Anna M. Evans
    • Requested that plans for a Town Hall meeting be reinstated now that the Committee had moved to a format of not answering questions posed during Public Comment. She also observed that in practice this rule was only followed when the commenters were critical of the Committee.
    • Requested that Committeeman Fitzpatrick apologize for publicly blaming Leo Selb at the previous meeting for having caused the problem with the change order. Committeeman Fitzpatrick responded in the negative.
    • Asked the Committee to clarify that the three interviews were indeed for the Administrator/Clerk position.
    • Described how Mayor Porto’s announcement posts on Facebook regarding the special meeting were invisible to those residents of Hainesport he has blocked and/or barred from his Community page. She then requested that he delegate the responsibility for making such posts to Committeewoman Leila Gilmore.
  • Kathy Parker
    • Asked if she was allowed to continue a conversation when a Committee Member responded during Committee Comment. When she was told that was not how it would work, she complained that the Committee were not allowing conversation about issues. Deputy Mayor Masciocchi observed quite correctly at this point that if the rule was to be followed, it needed to be followed without exception (which was not happening.) Mayor Porto explained that everyone was still adjusting to the new rule.
  • Kitty McNelis
    • Said that she feels the same way as Kathy. The Committee have been responding during Public Comment for many years, but now residents have to wait a whole month to get further answers to questions raised by the Committee’s responses in Committee Comment. She added that the Committee could basically say anything they wanted, and that she would love to see the meetings televised. She thought Comcast had donated some money for that.

Committee Comment

  • Leila Gilmore
    • Thanked everyone for coming
  • Frank Masciocchi
    • Addressed the Facebook situation by saying that if the Township had a Facebook page people could go there, but any posts Mayor Porto makes privately are his own affair.
  • Mick Dickinson
    • Explained that any Town Hall would also not be a debate forum, but more like an information giving session. He said that notice of the meetings appears on the township website, and should be in emails sent to those who subscribe to that service. When members of the audience stated that they were subscribed to the service and had not received such an email, he said there had been glitches in the email service lately (mentioning the Ordinances email) and that he would look into it.
    • Said he would look into the Comcast grant for televising meetings.
    • Mentioned that there would be an Opening Ceremony in the spring for the Pickleball Courts
  • Mike Fitzpatrick
    • Clarified that the previous administrator had been wrong to okay the change order, but that Command Co. nonetheless deserved payment.
  • Mayor Porto
    • Clarified that all appropriations greater than $2000 must be approved by the Committee.
    • Thanked the County for the grant that paid for the Pickleball Courts
    • Repeated that the format henceforth is Public Comment followed by Committee Comment and profanity is unacceptable
    • Said that the interviewees for Administrator/Clerk were all capable people

Executive Session and After

The Committee moved to hold the interviews in the township meeting room, and chairs were placed in the lobby for those residents who wished to wait. Mayor Porto told everyone he could promise them no Public Action would be taken before 8.10 p.m. so they could go away and come back rather than waiting. The Committee entered Executive Session at 6.30, and the three candidates (two men and one woman) were interviewed consecutively. In the event the Committee emerged from Executive Session at 8.40 p.m. and immediately moved to adjourn.

Read a companion opinion piece by Anna Evans

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