by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — City Council members agreed on at least one thing Monday, November 21 following a behind-closed-doors meeting for “continuation of discussion regarding the City Manager’s contract:” No talking to the press.
Following a call to order by Mayor John Hollar shortly after 4:30 p.m., the council met privately in a conference room down the hall from the city manager’s office. Present in person were Mayor John Hollar, council members Justin Turcotte, Dona Bate, Jean Olson, Anne Watson and Tom Golonka. Participating by speaker phone were Council member Jessica Edgarly Walsh and city-hired attorney Amy McLoughlin.
Also in attendance were City Clerk John Odum, former Council member Steamer Walke and The Bridge, but they (we) had to leave not long after the meeting convened. Council unanimously agreed to enter executive session shortly after around 4:35. They then conducted a nearly two hour long meeting until around 6:19 p.m., when they voted to re-enter public session. At that time Hollar announced a mutually agreed upon statement :
“We’ve expressed our position, the City Manager has responded, and the City Council is moving forward with the goal of reaching a speedy resolution.”
The Bridge asked for some clarification and was told by Hollar that the City Manager’s lawyer had sent in a letter. When asked for a copy of the letter, Hollar, Olson and Watson said it was confidential.
Further questions were not entertained.
While waiting in the hallway during the earlier part of the meeting, The Bridge learned Walke had created and would be circulating a petition in support of City Manager William Fraser. It states “Shall the agreement between the City of Montpelier and William J. Fraser, its City Manager , be renewed effective March 12, 2017?” The purpose of this petition is to show the number of residents who support Fraser, Walke said.
“It is their (city council’s) authority to hire and fire the city manager. This is to let them know what people of the city think about it,” Walke said.
Also in the hallway as a handful of people waited for the executive session to conclude, College Street resident Barbara Taylor Blythe wondered aloud about the council’s conduct toward Fraser, “Aren’t they embarrassed?” Taylor Blythe said she has a lawn sign in support of Fraser on her lawn.
When the hearing concluded, no further announcements were made about what specific next steps would be taken.