Source: Sherman Publications

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Council chooses to remain president-less for now

by CJ Carnacchio

September 18, 2013

It appears that Oxford Village will continue to function without a council president at least for the foreseeable future.

Last week, council voted 3-1 to not elect a president at this time and have Councilman Dave Bailey continue to serve as president pro-tem.

Basically, Bailey, who cast the lone dissenting vote, will continue to fulfill the duties of the village president, such as chairing the council meetings, but without the title or change in pay.

Village council members are paid $15 per meeting, but can earn no more than $500 in a single year. The village president receives an additional $200 per year.

"We can continue to keep a president pro-tem and he just assumes the duties of president," said Councilwoman Sue Bossardet, who made the motion. "And this is what I think we should continue to do."

"I think (Bailey is) doing a fine job as pro-tem acting as president," said Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth. "I don't care if we continue that way."

Bailey disagreed with that idea.

"I think that it's time for the village council of the Village of Oxford to have a president without the letters after the president, pro-tem, which is the Latin for pro tempore, which means 'for the time being,'" Bailey said.

The presidency was vacated last month when Tony Albensi resigned from council.

The village charter states that only a council member who was elected by the people can be elected to the offices of president and president pro-tem. Council elects these positions from amongst its five members.

Right now, the only two council members who qualify for the offices are Bailey and Maureen Helmuth, both of whom were elected in 2009. Bossardet and Councilman Elgin Nichols were both appointed as was the newest councilman, Bryan Cloutier.

Village attorney Bob Davis informed council that although the charter states council shall elect a president and president pro-tem from its elected membership, "it doesn't place a time (constraint) on when you do that."

"There's no time component related to the election of a president," he said.

Bossardet explained her reasons for not wanting to elect a president at this point.

"I believe that the president and president pro-tem are not just titles," she said.

She believes the president should be "one who represents our community, our ideals, our wishes and one who listens."

Bossardet feels like she currently doesn't have a choice when it comes to filling this position.

"I should not be in the position of having no choice, of feeling like I live in a country that does not allow me a choice, which is not the case," she said.

Bailey pointed out that Bossardet does have a choice, him or Helmuth.

He believes becoming president would help him do a better job. "If I were elected president of the council . . . I would, in my opinion, be a more effective public official than I am now," he said.

Bailey explained he feels that even though he's been performing the duties of the president, he's "in some sense not really the president of the council."

"Had I been the president of the council for the last couple of weeks, I think I would have made it my business to register myself as an attendee at the Michigan Municipal League conference, which is being held this month in Detroit," he said.

Bailey indicated that to him, "it makes a difference" whether he's president or president pro-tem. He admitted it's a personal thing.

"But I think for other reasons as well, it's probably better for the council to have a 'real president,'" he said.

Bossardet pointed out that Bailey had "already publicly stated" and "told both Mr. Nichols and myself, that he did not wish to be president."

Bailey said he "was probably a little too modest in the past month or so" since Albensi resigned.

"I don't recollect saying that I did not want to be president," he said. "I expressed some concerns. But I don't recall ever saying, flat-out, I do not wish to be president.

"And even if I did say that . . .arguably, it was a slip of the tongue because I've never felt that way. I have always felt that I would do my best as president if I were so elected."

"You did relate to me that you weren't interested in being president at one time," Nichols said.

"I did not," replied Bailey.

Nichols explained that back when he was new to council last year, "you said that was an area that you weren't interested in."

"I may have said something close to that," Bailey said. "But in my opinion, that is not the same thing as being unwilling to do the duties if I were appointed."