Democratic Town Committee chair Daniel Russo rendered his opinion at the January 14th meeting that seated alternates do not have the right to vote for officers. This opinion was unambiguously and forcefully rejected by Attorney Thazhampallath:
1. Should a distinction be made between the powers vested in a seated alternate P&Z commission member and a regular P&Z commission member?No, seated alternate P&Z commission members are vested with the full powers and authorities of a regular P&Z member.2. Do seated alternate P&Z commission members possess the right to vote during an election of officers?Yes, inclusive in the vested powers and authority of a seated alternate member is the right to vote during the annual election of officers.
Thazhampallath cited both Connecticut General Statutes and the 2004 Revised Middletown P&Z Commission By-Laws to support his opinion.
At tonight's P&Z meeting, during a "discussion with the public" period of the meeting, a member of the public raised the issue that seems to have driven much of the debate among commissioners over the election procedures and parliamentary law. Elizabeth Emery, apparently referring to the annual hiatus that Commission Chair Barbara Plum takes from Middletown, said, "We should have the people we elect be at the meeting, not away for three months." She called on city officials to remove from office anybody who misses so many meetings. Upon being told that only the voters could remove P&Z Commissioners, she rejoined, "We're going to work that the people who don't show up don't get voted for."
Election of a chair was not on the agenda at tonight's meeting, Commissioner Johnson asked Acting Chair Pelletier to place it on the agenda for the next meeting.