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Council approves McLeod promotion

by Canda Harbaugh & Western News
| September 21, 2010 9:06 PM

The Troy City Council unanimously consented to promote Bob McLeod to chief of police at last week’s meeting … eight months after the mayor appointed him to the position.

Councilmembers Phil Fisher and Gary Rose requested the vote because they say that Mayor Don Banning violated the city charter by promoting McLeod to the position in January without gaining the council’s consent.

Rose told Banning during a heated work session two weeks ago that though the council supported McLeod as chief, he wanted a formal vote to make the appointment legal. He said that some citizens had questioned the legitimacy of McLeod as head of the police department.

“This is what happens when the proper procedure doesn’t happen,” Rose said.

The council passed the item without discussion during last Wednesday’s general meeting.

“They gave consent to the appointment,” Banning said later. “That’s fine with me. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but they seemed to think people were giving Bob a bad time.”

In a rare display of civility, the mayor and council zipped through more than a dozen agenda items without becoming hostile.

The council went on to pass what had been a hot-button issue – a resolution to force the mayor to place items on the agenda if requested by two members of the council.

Banning had originally told the council that city attorney Mark Fennessy advised him that the resolution was illegal because it impeded on the duties of the mayor under Montana law. Rose asked Fennessy last Wednesday if Banning was correct.

“I don’t think it’s illegal,” Fennessy said. “There may be some inappropriate language in it, but I don’t think it’s illegal. It’s up to the council to pass it.”

Councilmember Loretta Jones inquired how the resolution’s language should be altered to be more proper. Fennessy replied he was unsure at that time. He pointed out that the resolution, which the council passed unanimously, is subject to a veto by the mayor.

Banning has up to 30 days to object to the entire resolution or a portion of it and to turn in a document outlining his reasoning. A vote by two-thirds of the council can over-ride his veto. Banning said he is waiting on that issue until after representatives from the Local Government Center of Montana State University meet with him and the council Sept. 29-30.

“I’m going to wait until the council meets with the local government people and (the city’s insurance carrier) MMIA,” Banning said. “Maybe they can answer their questions and make them understand what the agenda is … It says right in the law that the mayor and the city clerk make the agenda.”

The meetings are set up to educate both parties about the scope of their responsibilities in city government so that they may reconcile differences that have plagued them for months.

In other news at last Wednesday’s meeting:

• The council approved the final budget.

• The council voted to allow McLeod to move forward with his animal control plan, which entailed drawing up formal contract documents to partner with Kootenai Pets for Life, Debbie’s Pet Grooming and Lincoln County. The council agreed that once the contracts are in place, the next step would be to hire a part-time animal control officer.

• Rose gave an update on a proposed water feature at the fishing pond at Roosevelt Park. The councilmember and landscaping artist said that he envisioned rock and other natural material with a waterfall pouring into two small ponds. He said that Lincoln County Commissioner John Konzen offered the help of the county road crew to transport rock and dirt to the site when the crew is less busy later in the fall.