The sudden appointment of Emily Hurd to City Council should raise questions from the citizens of Rye. For example, why was this item not on the agenda that night? (I checked the posted agenda as the proceedings were occurring and there was nothing.) The resignation of a duly elected official is an event of moment that should be afforded as much public notice and explanation as possible. In contrast, when Suzanna Keith resigned her seat in 2012, then-mayor Doug French and the Council gave ample notification to Rye residents over a series of meetings in advance of the resignation and the filling of the vacancy. Why not follow that precedent?
Furthermore, this is the second time in six months that an elected Rye Councilperson resigned with no prior notice to the public. When Pam Tarlow left in July, it was downright bizarre. At the first Council meeting immediately following her resignation, Ms. Tarlow was absent from the agenda and erased from the dais — her seat left empty with no explanation. It took until item 6, when a resident spoke during public comments, before the issue was raised at all. Why?
And now we come to the latest episode in the saga of Rye politics. Councilman and beloved public servant Rich Mecca has been ill for some time, as his absences in the last year illustrate. Mayor Cohn, in his brief remarks about how Ms. Hurd had been selected to replace Mr. Mecca, admits that “We’ve been doing a little thinking in anticipation” of the impending resignation. Just thinking? Why not public discussion? And if the departing Councilman expressed his wish that Ms. Hurd be his replacement, again, why is this not shared with Rye citizens in advance of such an important decision?
Furthermore, as there was no rush to replace Ms. Tarlow last summer, why was there a rush to fill Mr. Mecca’s seat a few scant hours after the mayor says he received the resignation? Why not offer an opportunity for replacements to step forward as the Council did under Mayor French? If they had “anticipated” this necessity, the Council could have teed up candidate appointees sooner or, at least, appealed for public input. Why didn’t they?
In the 21st century, we have all kinds of communication tools. We no longer need a town crier on horseback to deliver breaking news. But, heck, if that’s what it takes, this taxpayer would be happy to have more hear ye, hear ye and less silence from City Hall.
- Lori Fontanes