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Trump talks about council relationship

October 02, 2005

Q: The City Council members have sent you a letter saying that you are "unwilling or incapable of following the rules of procedure" and putting you "on notice." What do you think about that?

A: The charter has put me in a position to lead the council meetings, and in leading the council meetings, we have adopted Robert's Rules of Order. Robert's Rules of Orders are just to create a spirit of decorum in the meetings, and when a question is out there, each council member asks the chair for a turn to speak, they speak and make their point of discussion, then it goes back to the chair, and the next person speaks, and the next person speaks.

The excessive cross-talking and interrupting that goes on is the spirit of the way that that particular council wants to operate, and doesn't really choose to come under Robert's Rules of Order. Sometimes, we can't get a fair open discussion and come to a point because of all the cross-talk that goes on. So, I believe there's an opportunity for us to grow into having a more productive meeting by running it the way the rules have been laid out.

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Q: Were you familiar with Robert's Rules of Order before you took office?

A: I was familiar with them before I took office.

Q: You seem to be interested in adhering to them fairly strictly. Is that correct?

A: I think there has to be give and take on that. It's just that we don't.

Q: Would you say that you and the council have not gotten along, and why?

A: I've been put in a position and ran on a platform to lead through some issues. One of the issues I was going to lead through is helping the hospital facilitate their move the best way that we can. We're in a position now where they don't want to deal with the hospital issue. They want the county to deal with the hospital issue. It kind of makes it difficult to lead through and be proactive about a position when they don't want to get involved in a position.

Q: The letter also said that council members are "extremely concerned" about your behavior, which they called "inappropriate." The example given in the letter was asking a council member if she is a born-again Christian. Do you think this was an appropriate question, and how did it come up?"

A: Well, I'm a born-again Christian and, in a private conversation, I just simply asked Alesia (Parson-McBean) if she was born-again. She said that she was not. She didn't say that, excuse me. She said that it was none of my business and I said fine. If that offended her, I apologize to her. This was a private conversation and I wonder why that even came up in public.

Q: Have there been any other complaints about comments you have made, either specifically or generally, from council members either as a group or individually? Is this the only time that you have heard a complaint?

A: I have not heard any specific complaints at all from the council. Privately, only in general terms.

Q: Is there anything that you think is unresolved, any problems?

A: I'm trying to shift this conversation to really where I want to go with it ...

Q: I ask you these questions because it was a fairly extraordinary thing for the council to send that letter and we just want to explore what is the relationship between the mayor and council if it rises, in the council's eyes, to that measure.

A: We ran on a platform, Andy, to lead, to move this community forward in a time where we're experiencing tremendous growth and prosperity. In the process of doing that, part of that is planned growth development. I now have a council that they say they are unified at this point, but we are having a hard time setting a big-vision goal in where the city is going. We have some council people - for example, let's go over some of (Tuesday) night's votes.

One of the areas that, of course, I am concerned about is disabled people and handicapped people. We've got sidewalks that need repair. We had a vote (Tuesday) night where we wouldn't sublet some of that work out because our city employees are too busy, so our sidewalks won't get repaired as quick as they could get repaired.

If you're going to lead through an issue like that, you have to have some cooperation with them. We can't be micromanaging the individual departments. Our job as a council is to set policy, not to manage the individual departments. So, I find that to be a frustration, and in working through that process. On the development issues, we had (Tuesday) night a very strong presentation on annexation - made a whole lot of common sense. This community has to grow. We are at a point right now where a healthy community, like Hagerstown, which is the county seat, should really be about 70 percent of the population, or 60 percent of the population, and the urban areas should be the other part of it.

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