A new contract between the city of Portsmouth and Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) will take effect on June 8, but it did not come with a vote from Portsmouth City Council. The ordinance came up with the stipulation that pursuant to Council Rule 5, the legislation was requested to be passed as an emergency in accordance with Section 10 of the Charter.
That meant that a motion was made to suspend the rules requiring three readings. A routine measure was anything but routine Monday evening.
With only five members of Council present (Mayor Jim Kalb was absent), four votes were required to pass any motion, just as is the case when all six members are in place. When the smoke cleared on the vote, two members, Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson and Sixth Ward Councilman Tom Lowe, voted no, giving the motion only three votes.
First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson immediately call for a reconsideration and a discussion ensued as to whether that could be done that quickly. Second Ward Councilwoman Jo Ann Aeh said it could only be done after another piece of legislation was acted on. Portsmouth Solicitor John Haas was of the opinion that a measure can not be reconsidered at the same meeting.
“I don’t think there’s anything in the rules that permit a reconsideration at the same meeting,” Haas told the Daily Times on Tuesday morning. He said he plans to look into the rules to be sure, but as it stands, a vote for passage is not required. A vote is only necessary if Council wanted to reject the contract.
Haas said if Council wants to pass the ordinance anyway, a special meeting would be required.
“The effect is the same as if they had voted for it,” Haas said. “It would have been effective today (Tuesday) if they had voted for it. It just puts it off a couple of weeks.”
Present at the meeting were members of the FOP.
“I talked to some of the police and they weren’t upset about it,” Haas said. “They just wanted to make sure that it was ratified.”
One person who was visibly upset that the measure didn’t pass the vote of Council was Kevin W. Johnson.
“I do want to state right now that I’m disappointed that we did not take an affirmative stand and simply because two people voted against waiving the three readings,” Johnson said. “We allowed it to go into effect but we did not take affirmative action. That bothers me.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.