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October 27, 2009

After Lengthy, Contentious Debate, Council Votes to Put CAO on Leave

Kiss leo Perhaps it was sitting through five hours of contentious debate at the Burlington City Council last night, but nonetheless I think I can say with all due respect: Good political theater doesn't make for good government.

After hours of at times spirited and contentious debate, the Burlington City Council voted 8-6 early Tuesday morning urging Mayor Bob Kiss to place his top aide, Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold, on paid leave.

The council knows, as does the mayor and CAO (pictured right), that the council's request is not binding. Heck, it's not even allowed. The council doesn't have the power or authority to put a mayoral appointee on leave. Only the mayor can do that. And, it's clear Kiss has no intention of putting Leopold on leave.

"This is purely about politics," said Kiss.

He may be onto something. The vote broke down largely upon party lines, with Democrats leading the charge. In the week leading up to last night's vote, a number of councilors stepped forward asking Kiss to put Leopold on some form of leave — either paid or unpaid.

Voting in favor of the resolution were six Democrats: Ed Adrian (Ward 1); David Berezniak (Ward 2); Nancy Kaplan (Ward 4); Mary Kehoe (Ward 6); Bill Keogh (Ward 5); and Joan Shannon (Ward 5). They were joined by the council's two Republicans: Paul Decelles (Ward 7) and Vince Dober (Ward 7).

Voting against the measure were the council's three Progressives: Marissa Caldwell (Ward 3); Clarence Davis (Ward 3); and Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (Ward 2). They were joined by the council's two independents — Sharon Bushor (Ward 1) and Karen Paul (Ward 6) — and a lone Democrat, Russ Ellis (Ward 4).

Earlier in the day Kiss called the proposed actions "random, uncoordinated, even reckless." At the council meeting, the mayor said the focus needs to be on supporting Burlington Telecom and making it stronger so it can thrive, calling it a "great asset of the city."

He urged the council to approve measures calling for a full audit, and said his administration will propose new rules for how "cash pool" funds are utilized in the city. Those rules will include quarterly reports to the city council, and special reports if the amount exceeds a specific dollar threshold.

Before the meeting dragged into the morning hours, the council spent a considerable amount of time crafting a single resolution calling for the following:

The board of finance shall prepare a request for proposals to engage an auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of BT's finances and operations;

The City Council president shall appoint an ad hoc committee to review BT's governance structure and recommend changes; and

The administration shall present refinancing strategies, and other financing options, for BT to pursue. They must present those to the ad hoc committee and the board of finance by no later than November 16.


The ad hoc committee and the board of finance have to report back to the council by the first week of December.

After councilors vented their frustrations with Leopold, and other councilors vented their frustrations with their colleagues, Leopold was given a chance to defend himself.

Clearly angered by the accusations contained in the two-page resolution — which included a series of "whereas" clauses alleging everything from willfully keeping information from the council to trying to influence the outcome of the mayoral election — Leopold called the accusations "offensive and defamatory."

"You are charging me with influencing an election and you have no proof of that," added Leopold. "How do you do this? How do you do this?"

Leopold also said nothing was withheld from the public. The use of city cash to fund BT was right in the budget for everyone to see and question.

“This is a partisan witch hunt. If I wanted to hide something, why would I put it in the budget? I’m not going to be scapegoated because you can’t read a budget," Leopold added.

Councilors took issue with Leopold's assertion that the material was presented clearly or the implications of what the financial statements meant.

"I will submit that even if we did receive information, it was not done clearly," said Councilor Adrian. He also took issue with an admission from the city's legal team that it had advised the administration last November to come forward and disclose the violation to Condition 60. That's the provision that requires BT to repay the city any borrowed money within 60 days.

City officials say the lawyers did provide that advice, and they wanted to disclose the violation to the Public Service Board, but wanted to simultaneously present a remedy.

"When I arrived in May, there was, as of yet, no plan," said Councilor Kaplan, who was elected to the council in March. "That delay is inexcusable."

It's not clear what additional pressure the council may place on Kiss to get him to place Leopold on leave.

Previous blog posts and articles about the Burlington Telecom controversy.

Secret Lives, Public Officials ("Fair Game" column, examining the political implications of keeping BT finances secret. Posted October 21)

Kiss Administration Grilled by Council on Telecom Finances (posted October 21)

Councilor Wants City CAO Placed on Leave (posted October 20)

Mayor to Propose Burlington Telecom Fixes (posted October 20)

State Tells City: Stop Loaning Cash to Burlington Telecom (posted October 17)

City to Host Special Meetings on Burlington Telecom (posted October 16)

Telecom Tangle ("Fair Game" column in which PSD commish David O'Brien lashes out at BT. Posted October 14)

Where the Hell's My Money? ("Fair Game" column, in which CAO Leopold defends use of pooled cash. Posted October 7)

On the Public's Dime ("Fair Game" column originally breaking the $17 million loan from taxpayers to BT. Posted September 30)

In November Joe McNeil told Leopold it would be better to come forward and inform the Public Service Board of the violation. Leopold didn't have another way to finance the 17 million so he didn't want to come forward with the truth.

It's not correct for the mayor to say this is purely about politics. There are valid philosophical and legal underpinnings to the council's concerns.

The more Leopold speaks the more I am convinced that this man is a ruthless violator of the truth. He attempts to deflect the responsibility onto everyone else but himself.
He makes Nixon look like a great example of the truth. Remenber Tricky Dicks list of people that were essentially on his hit list. Well Leopold is now on my hit list.
His honesty need no longer be questioned, it is obvious he just plain is a manufacturer of the truth.

What a pitiful circus. Ed Adrian ought to be ashamed rather than accept the mantle of being the protector of the people. He's going to screw BT just to make political points. Kiss may be onto something when he says it's about politics? Wow, Shay, I guess the ginko is working finally.

Yeah, this mess is all the Dems' fault. You people crack me up. I was wondering when 7D was going to step back into its role as the Prog newsletter.

Leopold's contempt for democratic accountability is an insult to the Burlington citizenry and a betrayal of the Progressives.

"Leopold's contempt for democratic accountability is an insult to the Burlington citizenry and a betrayal of the Progressives."

And so that would have to go for his boss, too, right?

Shay your column today was sad.
You accuse the dems of playing politics. Politics is being played because that is the game politicians play. The progs are playing politics too; they act as much the part of sycophants as the dems and reps play the part of attackers . It's like Yankees Red Sox stuff.

You've lost your focus on what's happened: JPAL has run BT into the ground. And now he has run out of options. That is the only reason we are here. He has kept it secret - secrecy is his currency, just ask the very liberal BTAC members and the public at large. JPAL controls everything (or he used to) and he made a HUGE transfer of funds from the City's coffers to BT without any due diligence. To compare this use of the cash pool to BED and the Airports use is specious. This was JPALs "bright" idea, not the councils, not the dems. The council is stuck with it now and they are angry. The condition 60 is a distraction. The real violation is the violation of the public trust (citizens always understood that BT would not be using taxpayers funds for BT) and the city charter which forbids the city form doing just that. As JPAL absurdly hollers at the council for the call for his removal, and says don't blame me if you can't read a budget, well should we not blame him if he can't read the charter and CPG. What a joke. I'm afraid the punch line is still to come.

City politics stinks to high heaven. If you don't think so, watch Ed Adrian for about thirty seconds. He thinks he's on LA Law or something.

To burlap city officals:
theres this funny thing called “Federal Law” its
gobbldee gook which 4 most part nobody understands
(callme nobody thats Mr.Nobody2u)
true story: ya know VPOUS Biden then senator Biden in 1988
AKA gafr joe well he sponsored a bill: (cmchoatelaw.com)
”...honest services fraud is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1346:
...includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another
of the intangible right of honest services..”
joe sez:”..a new public corruption statute that will be
used to bring charges against anyone
who attempts to deprive the citizens of the United States
or of any State of the honest services
of a public official,
or against anyone who attempts to corrupt
the election process..”

all ye trekies out there in cyber space:

PLESES send emails to:
usavt.ContactUs1@usdoj.gov
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

ask the US attorney to get his grand jury ON!

Theres no crisis until its time..
prosecutor has ta wait until train wreck
hits the fan& j q public feels facial do-do
otherwise ya hav 1000 progs in the streets
flagellating thmselves(with ed flanagan)
yelling“they'r killing jesus all ovr again”
leoTheLyinStealr er leo the venture capitalist pig
has whats calld in VC circles a burn rate 4 the $17M
as long as the 14 dwarfs& the bumblin staties look the
othr way while sausage is being made he's got 2-4 yrs
of easy living dependin on how $17M ”loan” is srvc'd
DPS is callin 4 repaymnt but they'd haf ta go c a
gavel banger(court) and play heavies but theres no
big payoff in that& the 14 dwarfs runnin round with
they'r rubbr axes er stamps (this being halloween)
maya kissMaGrits threw watr on em& they'r melting
(what do we need drawfs 4?)
anyways if they burn an effigy
they'r burning themselves
how much fun can that b?

To burlap city officals:
theres this funny thing called “Federal Law” its
gobbldee gook which 4 most part nobody understands
(callme nobody thats Mr.Nobody2u)
true story: ya know VPOUS Biden then senator Biden in 1988
AKA gafr joe well he sponsored a bill: (cmchoatelaw.com)
”...honest services fraud is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1346:
...includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another
of the intangible right of honest services..”
joe sez:”..a new public corruption statute that will be
used to bring charges against anyone
who attempts to deprive the citizens of the United States
or of any State of the honest services
of a public official,
or against anyone who attempts to corrupt
the election process..”

all ye trekies out there in cyber space:

PLESES send emails to:
usavt.ContactUs1@usdoj.gov
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

ask the US attorney to get his grand jury ON!

Theres no crisis until its time..
prosecutor has ta wait until train wreck
hits the fan& j q public feels facial do-do
otherwise ya hav 1000 progs in the streets
flagellating thmselves(with ed flanagan)
yelling“they'r killing jesus all ovr again”
leoTheLyinStealr er leo the venture capitalist pig
has whats calld in VC circles a burn rate 4 the $17M
as long as the 14 dwarfs& the bumblin staties look the
othr way while sausage is being made he's got 2-4 yrs
of easy living dependin on how $17M ”loan” is srvc'd
DPS is callin 4 repaymnt but they'd haf ta go c a
gavel banger(court) and play heavies but theres no
big payoff in that& the 14 dwarfs runnin round with
they'r rubbr axes er stamps (this being halloween)
maya kissMaGrits threw watr on em& they'r melting
(what do we need drawfs 4?)
anyways if they burn an effigy
they'r burning themselves
how much fun can that b?

To burlap city officals:
theres this funny thing called “Federal Law” its
gobbldee gook which 4 most part nobody understands
(callme nobody thats Mr.Nobody2u)
true story: ya know VPOUS Biden then senator Biden in 1988
AKA gafr joe well he sponsored a bill: (cmchoatelaw.com)
”...honest services fraud is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1346:
...includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another
of the intangible right of honest services..”
joe sez:”..a new public corruption statute that will be
used to bring charges against anyone
who attempts to deprive the citizens of the United States
or of any State of the honest services
of a public official,
or against anyone who attempts to corrupt
the election process..”

all ye trekies out there in cyber space:

PLESES send emails to:
usavt.ContactUs1@usdoj.gov
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

ask the US attorney to get his grand jury ON!

Theres no crisis until its time..
prosecutor has ta wait until train wreck
hits the fan& j q public feels facial do-do
otherwise ya hav 1000 progs in the streets
flagellating thmselves(with ed flanagan)
yelling“they'r killing jesus all ovr again”
leoTheLyinStealr er leo the venture capitalist pig
has whats calld in VC circles a burn rate 4 the $17M
as long as the 14 dwarfs& the bumblin staties look the
othr way while sausage is being made he's got 2-4 yrs
of easy living dependin on how $17M ”loan” is srvc'd
DPS is callin 4 repaymnt but they'd haf ta go c a
gavel banger(court) and play heavies but theres no
big payoff in that& the 14 dwarfs runnin round with
they'r rubbr axes er stamps (this being halloween)
maya kissMaGrits threw watr on em& they'r melting
(what do we need drawfs 4?)
anyways if they burn an effigy
they'r burning themselves
how much fun can that b?

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