Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Republicans block discussion on Kleinhans’ new job

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 12:03 PM EDT

VERNON — Democrats on the Town Council attempted to discuss the town public works director’s new job with the Board of Education during their meeting Tuesday, but were blocked by council Republicans.

School Superintendent Mary P. Conway hired Public Works Director Robert Kleinhans as director of facilities and maintenance for the schools more than a month ago, with permission from Town Administrator John D. Ward.

But neither board members nor council members have been given an opportunity for input on the situation, which Conway classified as temporary, though she also has said his position in the schools would become a “permanent trial.”

Unaffiliated council member James Krupienski attempted to add a discussion about the subject to Tuesday’s agenda, and was supported by several other council members.

But Republicans immediately blocked the discussion, with Republican council member Mark Etre demanding that Krupienski provide a written request to add the item.

“It’s the rules,” Etre said.

“With all due respect, that’s not a rule either party has adhered to for a long time,” Democrat Michael Winkler responded, noting that agenda items have been recently added mid-meeting, without supporting documentation.

Mayor Jason L. McCoy allowed council members to vote on the issue, with seven in favor of adding the agenda item and four members — all Republicans — opposed.

Council rules require a two-thirds majority to add an agenda item, however, and Democrats and their supporters missed the mark by one vote.

Democrat Marie Herbst tried to address the issue in other ways, but was effectively shut down by McCoy after the vote.

McCoy said he would bring up the issue at the next council meeting.

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