On Monday, the Pinedale Town Council passed the employee handbook by a public vote of 3-0. Then, during an executive session, the mayor vetoed it. As mayor, Steve Smith can veto resolutions at any point afterwards, but it was inappropriate to take any action during an executive session. The Wyoming Association of Municipalities described this as “highly unusual.” We believe it is illegal and invalid.
Rules governing executive sessions state that no action may be taken during the executive session. No voting or discussion of other topics is allowed, vetoing is taking action, and since it’s not allowed, we feel it was an invalid action and the handbook still stands. By vetoing in an executive session, the mayor seems to have wanted to bind the town council to confidentiality and keep his veto and the status of the handbook a secret.
The employee handbook the public saw us pass on Monday included language to remove the mayor’s unwritten policy of compensatory time he’s been offering to exempt employees. This has been grossly abused and is expensive to the town, and therefore needed to be addressed with an actual written policy that is much more in line with what most of the public are used to in their private sector jobs.
Smith publicly stated during our workshops on the handbook that he “didn’t bother to read the edits” proposed by the council because he was opposed to any changes, proof of which is his veto. Smith could have chosen to publicly veto the handbook, but instead, he chose to hide his action in a closed-door executive session shortly after we passed it. His rationale for this is mysterious to us. He could have vetoed the resolution at any point during the meeting or after, but just not in executive session. We would like him to explain to the public why he vetoed a reasonable employee handbook and attempted to force the council into silence and to further stall implementation of these broadly accepted employee policies.
We freely admit we are in violation of executive privilege in writing this letter, but we believe Smith’s violation breaches the entire principle of the statute preserving transparency, open government and honesty.
For the complete article see the 04-18-2014 issue.
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