The battle for Edgewood continues as its town council held another hours-long and contentious meeting in which little action was taken; meanwhile, councilors Sherry Abraham and Audrey Jaramillo filed suit against fellow councilors Linda Holle and John Abrams, who is serving as mayor pro tem.
Abrams is serving as mayor due to the removal of John Bassett from his position as mayor, the result of another lawsuit that ended up in the state Supreme Court, where it still awaits resolution.
After months of complaining that Bassett, and later Abrams, did not put items on the town’s agenda when asked, Abraham and Jaramillo made ample use of those items when they appeared this week, including a long-awaited report on the town’s wastewater plant, and “matters from councilors,” in which each councilor may speak on whatever they wish.
Abraham and Jaramillo questioned the town’s sewer operator about various aspects of the plant’s operation, including the current level of water in the pond. Each had dozens of questions, which operator Larry Hall answered as he referred to documents; after more than an hour of questions, Hall mentioned that he had 32 years of experience in the field.
Jaramillo’s laundry list of complaints had a familiar ring, including her many requests to put on the agenda the town’s transition to commission-manager format as demanded by voters by a 3-1 margin in August, 2020.
During the meeting motion after motion died due to lack of a majority when the two sets of councilors disagreed on how to proceed, ending 2-2, and with no mayor to break the tie, a role regularly performed by Bassett.
Public comment also took its familiar path, with the same handful of residents calling up to make the same complaints about public comment, the town’s lack of action on various issues and other grievances, including moving public comment toward the end of the agenda, and after action items had already been decided.
The town is now tasked with creating districts and other details of how that transition will happen, before elections for commissioners, not councilors, are held this November.
When it was Abrams’ turn to speak, he said “a lot of stuff” has been going on, and said the town started taking actions to implement a transition to commission-manager in late August or early September.
“Immediately after the election, the town clerk told you all that it was his job to go out and find the … contract to do the districting,” Abrams said to his fellow councilors, adding that town clerk Juan Torres had done that.
That company, Research & Polling, Inc., told Edgewood at that time that new Census data necessary for districting would not be available “until maybe March,” but now say that won’t be available until later this year, Abrams said.
That means the next governing body will have to redistrict with updated Census data, he said, adding that the town will have to pay for districting twice, at a cost of $20,000.
Abrams said he would “get them working on it [districting]” as quickly as possible.
Abrams mentioned another project the town is working on, codification of all of its ordinances and resolutions. That will make future updates of town legislation quick and easy, he said.
To finish, Abrams said, “Are we moving forward? Yes, yes we are. Unfortunately, Covid has gotten in the way, and various other things have gotten in the way, and as I’ve said before, I’m not that quick on the uptake on a job as big as mayor of a town. So yes, I have been councilor for a long time … but the day-to-day operations of a municipality are a little bit more than the job of a councilor, and I would caution each of you to be careful what you wish for if you plan on becoming a mayor at all.”
The lawsuit by Abraham and Jaramillo seeks to compel Holle and Abrams to “…proceed to organize under Commission-Manager form of government” and says “there are many urgent and past-due steps” to do so.
A hearing is scheduled for March 1 at 10 a.m., on Google Meets in District Court, before Judge Kathleen McGarry Ellenwood.