Councilors Spar over Revising Attleboro Laws
Councilor Shannon Heagney wants a committee to review the city's ordinances for possible revision. Council President Frank Cook says he needs to talk to the mayor about that first.
A proposal for a City Council committee to review Attleboro's ordinances and determine if any could be removed because they are out of date or conflict with state laws turned into a 30-minute debate Tuesday night between two councilors.
Councilors Shannon Heagney and Jeremy Denlea proposed that a council subcommittee review the municipal laws for possible changes. Usually when a councilor makes a proposal, Council President Frank Cook determines which committee (whether it be an existing one or a new one) should review it in preparation for a possible recommendation to the full council. However, this time he said he wanted to refer the item to the city's administration, which means Mayor Kevin Dumas and Budget and Administration Director Barry LaCasse.
This unusual decision did not sit well with Heagney.
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"They can have a memo sent up to say we're having a discussion, but I don't think it needs to be referred to the administration," she said.
Heagney said she believed the council's Ordinances Committee, of which she and Denlea are members, could handle the task. She said she researches well and noted that Denlea has a law degree.
Cook said his reasons for referring the proposal to the administration were he wanted to see if they may be working on something similar and he was concerned a council committee review could be time-consuming and expensive.
"To undertake this [ordinance] book and start to revise and so forth is a very significant undertaking," Cook said. "I'm very concerned about its effect on the council in terms of amount of time it's going take. I'm also concerned about the potential cost involved in it [because the city solicitor would need to give his input]."
Heagney said the committee could meet during off-hours for some of the sessions. Cook did not like that idea. He said the committee should only meet during regular hours rather than times when everybody on the council may not be able to attend. Although council committees only have three members, all councilors are allowed to attend the meetings and speak during them.
Other councilors gave their input on this debate, with Mark Cooper siding with Heagney, Peter Blais saying he was divided and Brian Kirby aligning himself with Cook.
Cooper said Dumas and LaCasse could attend a committee meeting or submit a memo on specific ordinances they want reviewed.
The debate concluded with Cook saying he would "talk" to the administration (whether this was different than his original plan to "refer" the proposal to the administration was not clear) and "touch base" with the city solicitor.