Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council Members Walk out of Meeting; 2 on the Darien Panel Want to Dismiss City Attorney

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council Members Walk out of Meeting; 2 on the Darien Panel Want to Dismiss City Attorney

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

DARIEN | Conflicts between the city's charter and its ordinances are likely to remain unresolved until at least June after two dissatisfied City Council members stalked out of a meeting Tuesday night, leaving the panel short of a quorum.

After his motion to add an item to the meeting agenda to replace City Attorney Gary Moore failed, council member Griffin Lotson left the meeting, followed soon after by council member Barbara Shaw.

With only John Cox and Jeff Clark left, all Mayor Hugh "Bubba" Hodge could do was declare there was no quorum and quietly gavel the meeting into adjournment.

Although it lasted about 45 minutes, the meeting never really started as Lotson and Shaw on one side haggled with Clark and Cox, who was just sworn into office Tuesday night after winning a special election in March to fill a vacancy.

Referring to the motion to fire, Clark accused Lotson of "dropping this bomb in here on us."

Lotson's objection to Moore is that his legal advice conflicts with what Lotson wants to do, Clark said.

"You have not been told what you wanted to hear all year long,'' he said.

He accused Lotson of Richard Nixon's Watergate tactics in firing lawyers and attorneys general who wouldn't do his bidding.

In this case, Moore has told the council it needs to amend some ordinances so they will conform with the city charter. Charters are the state laws that authorize city governments to operate and contain certain procedural rules.

Lotson said the real intention of the other council members was to deprive the mayor of the right to vote. The truth, however, is that the mayor would still get to vote but less often.

In Darien's case, the charter says the mayor may vote to break a tie or if a third vote is needed when a council member is absent.

The ordinance says the same thing, but Moore has said it leaves out the essential element of what constitutes an absence. …

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