Bardsley Raises Questions about Actions
Note: The following letter by City Councilor at Large Michael Bardsley was sent on Sunday to the editor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and a copy delivered by e-mail to downstreet.net
To the editor:
In the recent Weekend Gazette (July 11-12) there appeared a letter to the editor by Ms Valle Dwight questioning my surprise over recent Northampton City Council executive session minutes which contained little or no information about the matters discussed in those meetings. For whatever reason, Ms Dwight's criticism of my response omitted some significant facts.
When the minutes of the executive sessions were presented to the council for approval, I questioned Mayor Higgins as to why there was virtually no content to those minutes. My memory was that minutes of previous executive sessions were more informative than the ones we were being asked to approve.
Higgins' response was that the minutes being presented to the council were consistent with how the city handles executive minutes. Rightly or wrongly, I accepted the Mayor's explanation as being accurate and voted to approve.
Next morning I found myself still curious about those sparse minutes. I contacted Assistant City Clerk Lyn Simmons, the previous clerk to the city council, and asked about the executive session minutes she had taken. She stated that her minutes did indeed contain more information than those that the council had approved the night before. Apparently the Mayor had been incorrect.
I then contacted the current clerk to the council, Executive Secretary Mary Midura, and asked her if the minutes she had submitted were indeed the same set of minutes which appeared before the council. She stated that they were not. She further explained that she had submitted minutes containing information comparable to previous executive session minutes but City Solicitor Janet Sheppard had expunged all the content. When I asked Ms Midura if she still had those draft minutes, she stated that the City Solicitor had not only confiscated her draft minutes but had also instructed her to shred all her notes of those executive sessions and to delete the draft copy of those minutes from her computer.
I then questioned why Ms. Midura would follow the directives of the City Solicitor when her direct supervisor was the City Council President, James Dostal. She explained that Mr. Dostal had instructed her to do whatever the City Solicitor wanted her to do.
When Dan Crowley contacted me about my questioning of the executive session minutes the evening before, I shared with him the information I had learned from Ms Simmons and Ms Midura. When he asked if I was surprised that the minutes were void of content, I thought my positive response was quite understated. I have not said any more publicly on this issue because I first wanted to speak directly with the City Solicitor, whose has been out of town on vacation. However, Ms Dwight's partially informative letter could not go without a response.
Ms Dwight, let me be clear. In my sixteen years as a member of the Northampton City Council nothing comparable to this has ever happened. That is the only reason why I have spoken out at this time. However, the truth be known, I am not surprised; but I am shocked.
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