Dispute over Keyser City Council seat not over

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Curtis Perry

By Liz Beavers

lbeavers@newstribune.info

Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER - The dispute over the vacant seat on Keyser City Council is not over, and Curtis Perry says he remains the appointee.

Despite the council re-doing their vote last week to rescind their appointment of Perry to fill the seat that has been vacant for several months, Perry is contending the second vote was not any more legal than the first.

On Nov. 18, the council voted to appoint Perry, the next-in-line in terms of votes in the city’s July 28 election. Council member Billy Meek made the motion to appoint Perry, and Jim Hannas seconded it.

On Dec. 9, however, Hannas made a motion to rescind the appointment, citing the fact that the officials had since learned Perry had filed ethics complaints against them.

The vote on Hannas’ motion, however, was two in favor, one (Meek) against and one member (Mike Ryan) who didn’t vote.

Although mayor Damon Tillman stated that night that the motion had passed, Perry called it into question, noting that the vote did not meet the majority needed for passage.

As a result, Hannas announced at the Jan. 13 meeting that he intended to make the motion to rescind once again during the Jan. 27 meeting, which he did. That time, the motion was seconded by Ryan and the vote was 3-1, with Meek again voting against.

In a Letter to the Editor, Perry points out that, according to City Ordinance 121, neither of the motions to rescind was correctly handled.

More:LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Perry still city councilman

According to Section 8 of that ordinance, the council is to observe Robert’s Rules of Order when it comes to rescinding, repealing or annulling any vote.

“Any vote taken … may be rescinded by a majority vote, provided notice of the motion has been given at the previous meeting ….

“Votes cannot be rescinded after something has been done as a result of the (original) vote that the assembly cannot undo … or where the other party is informed of the fact … or where one has been elected to, expelled from, membership or office, and was present or has been officially notified,” according to Roberts Rules of Order Online.

According to Perry, he was notified of his appointment by Tillman, Meek and Hannas, and that fact alone nullifies the later votes to rescind the appointment.

“I am still legitimately councilman,” he said in his letter.

When he made the first motion to rescind the appointment, Hannas acknowledged that he had spoken with Perry about his appointment following the original vote.

“He told me, ‘I’ll work with the council,’” he said during the Dec. 9 meeting.

Hannas went on to say that night, however, that three days after Perry was appointed, “I went to my mailbox and there were three pages of complaints against me.”

The Ethics Commission later dismissed the complaints, and Perry told the News Tribune that the council members “knew my vocal and written complaints would stop as a member of the council.”

Meek told the News Tribune Friday that he still believes Perry would make a good council member, and that’s why he “stuck by my guns” by voting against the motions to rescind.

Noting that Perry was the fourth highest vote-getter in the July  election, behind Hannas, Ryan and himself, Meek asked “Why not appoint who the citizens wanted?

“Yes, he wrote an official complaint … he did it correctly. He didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.

Meek went on to say he hopes the issues will get resolved soon and the council will be able to move forward.

“Let’s get this council back together and let’s get some good things going,” he said, adding that he feels letting Perry take the vacant seat is “truly the right thing to do.”

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 10.