To do business, or not to do business, was the question

IaconoGenevieve Reilly / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — The annual organizational meeting of the Representative Town Meeting is usually rather pro forma. But this time, Monday’s meeting hit a snag when it came to adopting the meeting schedule for 2017.

After quickly approving the reappointment of Pam Iacono and Hank Ference as moderator and deputy moderator, respectively, the legislative body turned its attention to the meeting calender. Alongside the date of the Nov. 27 meeting was an asterisk, and the notation it would be held for organizational purposes and no other business would go on the agenda.

Phil Pires, D-4, wanted to remove that asterisk, and made a motion to do just that. “It’s a change in our practice,” Pires said, and limits them. If newer RTM members aren’t up to speed on an issue, Pires said it can always be carried over to the next meeting.

But Ed Bateson, R- 1, said next November’s meeting will be after the municipal election, and resolutions on the agenda could put “too much pressure on new people.” He said he believed it would be “appropriate for this meeting to just seat the new RTM.” Otherwise, he said, it can lead to confusion.

“On my first meeting, I was not confused,” said Ken Lee, D-9.

“I think we can all agree it’s not ideal to to have anything of substance on that agenda,” said Josh Garskof, D-5. “But why tie our hands so we can’t leave the door open?”

First Selectman Mike Tetreau said he felt it made sense to make a recommendation to the administration to not forward items of substance to the clerk for the November organizational meeting, rather than adopting a policy.

Conducting business other than organization is not unheard of, according to Bill Gerber, D-4. With a nod to his wife, Board of Education member Jessica Gerber, who was watching from home and looked it up, new RTMs dealt with the Penfield Building Committee in 2013, roof warranties in 2011 and school paraprofessionals’ pension program in 2015. And, he said, the new teachers’ contract could end up at the RTM in November of 2017.

“We’re smart enough to make decisions,” said Peter Ambrose, R-1, in voicing support for Pires’ amendment.

The amendment, to allow for other business to be on the November meeting agenda, passed with four members voting against.; @GreillyPost