The May 18 virtual Town of La Plata Council work session meeting became quite volatile on the issue of businesses requesting to open immediately. Mayor Jeannine James opted to have two public forums: one to open the meeting and the other at the end. During the first public forum all of the speakers were either current or previous business owners who gave impassioned statements as to why they should be allowed to immediately open. Several were allowed to speak more than once.
Following the public forum council member Paddy Mudd made a motion to allow the businesses to open immediately and was seconded by Mayor James. During the period of discussion only Mayor James offered a lengthy explanation of why this was the right move for the town. No one else spoke. The vote was taken. Council member Matt Simpson recused himself stating that a conflict of interest existed since he was a member of the board of the La Plata Business Association. Council members Brent Finagin and Emily Mudd Hendricks voted no without explanation. Mayor James and council member Paddy Mudd voted yes. The final vote was 2-2 which killed the measure.
The meeting proceeded through the agenda until the final public forum as promised by Mayor James. The first speaker recognized, who had previously spoken during the first public forum, exploded at Simpson, Finagin, and Mudd Hendricks demanding an explanation for their votes. Mayor James, rather than taking control of the meeting by having the town clerk mute the call of the current speaker, decided to have the meeting abruptly adjourned rather than allow others to speak as promised. I was one wishing to speak on a couple of topics.
On such a topic of importance, having two council members vote no without explanation and one recusing himself without explaining the actual conflict of interest is beyond disappointing and unacceptable. These council members had to be browbeat for explanations with Simpson finally admitting he was against it.
On April 28, 2017, in an advertisement in the Maryland Independent appeared this town council running for office with their six goals. Goal No. 5 reads “provide a better town for residents by working with businesses.” This advertisement was paid for by the La Plata Business Association. How’s that for money well spent?