Board Rejects New Mayor’s Committees

In their first Brentwood Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday, aldermen (from left) David Plufka, Keith Slusser and Steve Lochmoeller  listen to resident Doroty Smith speak. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
In their first regular Brentwood Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday, aldermen (from left) David Plufka, Keith Slusser and Steve Lochmoeller listen to resident Louise Charbonneau speak. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Thornton wants newcomers to chair all 3 committees

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

It didn’t take long for Chris Thornton to learn that things don’t always go the way you want them to when you’re the mayor of Brentwood.

Presiding over his first regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen on Monday at City Hall, Thornton saw the board reject his recommended committee appointments. In a 5-3 vote, the board said no to his appointments for three standing committees: Ways and Means, Public Safety and Public Works.

The Brentwood Municipal Code calls for the mayor to select four board members to serve on each of the three committees, and for the board to vote on the selections. Voting “yes” to Thornton’s recommendations on Monday were Patrick Toohey, Keith Slusser and David Plufka. Voting “no” were Thomas Kramer, Andy Leahy, Cindy Manestar, Maureen Saunders and Steve Lochmoeller.

Newly elected Mayor Chris Thornton presides over his first regular Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday at City Hall.
Newly elected Mayor Chris Thornton presides over his first regular Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday at City Hall.

Reasons not voiced

None of the board members explained why they voted as they did, which bothered at least one Brentwood resident.

“There’s no discussion, there’s no explanation,” Ann Ryan told the board in the public comment period. “We’ve just voted down a new mayor’s appointments. It doesn’t speak well to me. I expected us to come to a new day, a new consideration. … It certainly doesn’t feel that this is a cooperative effort moving into the first meeting.”

Main changes

For the five who voted “no,” the main changes to the committees proposed by Thornton were to take Kramer and Leahy off Ways and Means and Saunders off Public Works, and to add Leahy to Public Safety.

Alderman Andy Leahy
Alderman Andy Leahy

But perhaps the biggest change Thornton proposed was to have all three committees chaired by new aldermen: Slusser on Ways and Means, Plufka on Public Safety and Lochmoeller on Public Works. The mayor also proposed having newcomers in five of the 12 spots.

After the vote, during discussions of new business, Leahy handed Thornton a list of his own recommendations for committee assignments, and he asked the mayor to consider them. The list, in contrast to Thornton’s, had experienced aldermen in all three committee chairs: Saunders in Ways and Means, Toohey in Public Safety and Manestar in Public Works.

“Your suggestion is noted,” said Thornton.

Current committees to continue

Also during new business, Saunders said, “I’ve spoken with alderman Plufka and we both agree that we’d like to continue with Ward 1 meetings, but until we get the standing committee set and the time for those, we won’t be able to schedule our Ward 1 meetings.”

Alderwoman Maureen Saunders
Alderwoman Maureen Saunders

But Thornton replied, “The committees will continue as appointed at the times that were established previously, without the members that are not present.”

That led to the following exchange:

Saunders: “Ways and Means never really had a set date.”

Thornton: “Then the chairman will give you a date. Alderman Leahy?”

Leahy: “Understand that if under those guidelines, the Public Safety and the Public Works committees do not have a quorum, possibly.”

Thornton: “Well, I’m not familiar with their rules but we’ll have to address that. The committees are as they stood.”

Leahy: “But by not having a quorum you can’t have a meeting.”

Thornton: “We’ll address that later, I guess.”

City Administrator Bola Akande then said to Thornton, “I thought it was your intent to appoint someone to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Is that on hold?”

Thornton replied, “I’m going to put all my appointments on hold.”

After the meeting, asked what the next step is in determining the committee appointments, Akande replied, “I’m going to have to meet with him [Thornton] and see what he wants to do.”

The 5-3 vote came after a night of unanimous agreement on all other measures.

The first regular Board of Aldermen meeting with the new mayor and three new aldermen attracted a large crowd. Many were rescue workers and dispatchers who attended to see Brentwood Fire Chief Ted Jury hand out awards for two incidents in which individuals were resuscitated after their hearts had stopped.
The first regular Board of Aldermen meeting with the new mayor and three new aldermen attracts a large crowd. Many were rescue workers and dispatchers who attended to see Brentwood Fire Chief Ted Jury hand out awards for two incidents in which individuals were resuscitated after their hearts had stopped.

Ways & Means Committee, current members
Chairman Thomas Kramer, Maureen Saunders, Patrick Toohey, Andy Leahy

Ways & Means, proposed by Thornton
Chairman Keith Slusser, Maureen Saunders, Patrick Toohey, David Plufka

Public Safety Committee, current members
Chairman Lee Wynn, Keith Robertson, Anthony Harper, Thomas Kramer

Public Safety, proposed by Thornton
Chairman David Plufka, Steve Lochmoeller, Andy Leahy, Thomas Kramer

Public Works Committee, current members
Chairman Keith Robertson, Maureen Saunders, Andy Leahy, Cindy Manestar

Public Works, proposed by Thornton
Chairman Steve Lochmoeller, Patrick Toohey, Andy Leahy, Cindy Manestar

To see the page on the city’s website that explains each committee’s function, click here.

New aldermen Keith Slusser (left) and Steve Lochmoeller listen to a resident.
New aldermen Keith Slusser (left) and Steve Lochmoeller hear information about construction of the Brentwood Community Complex.

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