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City won't vote on beer law
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The second and final reading on the 300-foot distance requirement will have to wait.
Due to lack of a quorum on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this Tuesday, all business before the board is on hold until the next regular session, which is Oct. 28.
Four of the seven board members will not be in attendance Tuesday night. Absent will be Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Billy Wood and Rick Barnes.
What would have been under consideration is the second read to strike a sentence from the city’s existing policy that reads “No sale or distribution of beer shall be made at places within 300 feet of any school, public or private, kindergarten or churches.”
First read on the measure passed 4-3 on Sept. 23. While Haley, Newman, Wood and Barnes voted in favor of it, Aldermen Ken Smith, Mike Neal and Jimmy Bonner voted against. At that meeting, Wood said he would not be in attendance for the board’s next meeting Oct. 14. Now everyone else who voted for the change can't make it either.
“I think speculation in the community will be that they did this because they knew the measure would fail on Oct. 14,” said Neal. “I cannot say that, but it is awful suspicious.”
According to City Hall, a poll of board members was conducted Thursday in regard to attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting. The results: Haley absent and attending a conference, Wood absent and on vacation, Newman absent and on his honeymoon, Barnes absent but not giving a reason, and Smith, Neal and Bonner in attendance.
In order to have a quorum and conduct business, four members of the board must be in attendance.
Smith refused to speculate on the high coincidence of having Wood make his statement of absence, which would have resulted in the Oct. 14 vote dying in 3-3 tie, and then, having the three other board members announce they would also not be in attendance.
“I guess people will speculate that this was planned,” said Smith. “I don’t know that. As an individual, I would think that. As an alderman, I am disappointed we are not going to have a vote on Oct. 14, which is a regularly scheduled meeting.”
Without a quorum, the board meeting will be called to order by one of the members in attendance. Discussion can be held and the public will be allowed to voice their opinions. However, no vote can legally be taken.
In the past, board meetings that will not have at least four members in attendance have been cancelled by the mayor. Neal asked the city’s legal counsel if the mayor has the authority to cancel a regularly scheduled meeting.
Mayors do not have that authority, but they have done it, says city attorney Tim Pirtle.
“I cannot find any such authority in the McMinnville Municipal Code but, by custom and practice, I am aware that mayors have cancelled meetings in the past,” said Pirtle.
Neal says he, Smith and Bonner will be in attendance despite what the mayor decides to do.
“We can’t legally vote on anything, but we can still have a discussion,” said Neal. “We can still let those folks who come to the meeting talk to us at the podium. No matter what the mayor says today, even if he says there will be no meeting, we three board members are planning to be there. We will be there to listen, whether anybody else is or not.”
The board’s regular session at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night is still scheduled.