City Commissioners clash over agenda, old guard vs. new

City Commissioner Anthony Clark, the only veteran on the three-member board, clashed with new commissioners Stephanie Singer and Al Schmidt in a meeting this morning about when issues can be discussed. 

Singer, who became chairwoman after defeating longtime Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione's bid for a 10th tern last year, and Schmidt want all topics to be discussed at Wednesday meetings to be submitted for an agenda by 9 a.m. on Monday mornings.

Clark and Singer repeatedly interrupted each other, with Clark saying, "Hold on, hold on." while Singer cut off his comments.

"It don't have to be on the agenda," Clark said as he tried to make a motion."

"Yes it does," Singer said firmly. "I'm the chair and it has to be on the agenda." 

Schmidt piped in to say listing topics on the agenda allows for all of the commissioners to be prepared for the discussion.

The dispute arose as commissioners were discussing a proposal to enter into a "memorandum of agreement" with the city's Office of the Inspector General, potentially granting that agency investigative oversight of Commission employees and contractors. 

Clark later said his motion was not related to that but rather was going to be a expression of support for a senior Commission staffer who is expected to replace a recently retired employee but must wait for a Civil Service probationary period to pass.

Clark praised the way Tartaglione, who could be at turns cantankerous and funny, ran meetings where any commissioner could raise any topic at any time.  He conceded that Tartaglione did almost all the talking at those meetings.

"We are all three independent commissioners," Clark said before agreeing that he had lost the argument when the other two commissioners disagreed.  "That's not open discussion. That's not being transparent. That's not exercising your independence as a commissioner."