ALBANY — A lot of times such disagreements are little more than misunderstandings. And with the Albany City Commission holding “virtual” meetings now and its computer system perhaps not the world’s most reliable, this all could be just a matter of miscommunication.
But, as it now appears, City Attorney Nathan Davis is expected to go through the process of determining, at the request of Mayor Bo Dorough, whether Ward III Commissioner B.J. Fletcher broke Robert’s Rules of Order protocol during Thursday’s called commission meeting.
Fletcher, still angry Friday about comments she said were made by a fellow commissioner during Thursday’s meeting, was conciliatory in that she said she had no idea if she’d broken Robert’s Rules of Order, protocol on which most boards — including the Albany Commission — conduct business, but if she had she would “apologize to the commission, the mayor, the city manager, all other city officials, and especially the public.”
But she said comments made by Ward VI Commissioner Demetrius Young — and allowed by Dorough — were offensive to herself and fellow commissioners Matt Fuller and Chad Warbington, as well as business owners called out by Young.
“I went back and watched the meeting; Commissioner Young said he was ‘appalled’ at the people voting No on this matter — which were Commissioners Fuller, Warbington and myself — and the business people and others who said they were opposed to the mask ordinance and how ‘condescending’ they were to the 178 deaths in our community (attributed to the coronavirus),” Fletcher said.
“Mayor Dorough allowed him to make that comment, and I responded.
“I wanted to make a point to tell the public that that is not the message behind my no vote, and I’m sure it wasn’t for the others. My main question was how the ordinance was going to be enforced. But neither Commissioner Young nor anyone else has the right to publicly tell others how someone else thinks. Is it right to challenge people who have come out of their own pocket to do things for others? I guess it’s easy to do when it’s on the taxpayers’ dime.”
Dorough said Friday that while he did ask if Fletcher’s comments were in opposition to Robert’s Rules of Order, his primary concern was the commissioner’s comments that were made out of order.
“When she said she wanted to make a comment, I told her no ... Go back and watch the video of the meeting,” Dorough said. “I tried to stop her; I felt she was out of order. I told her, ‘Now is not the time for you to make these comments; we’re not going to have this.’ She kept talking.”
Fletcher said she was not aware that Dorough tried to stop her.
“Frankly, I didn’t hear what (Dorough) said,” the Ward III commissioner said. “I was so angry by Commissioner Young’s words. He’s telling people I didn’t care about the 178 deaths in our community when I just buried someone that’s been very much a part of my life three weeks ago. And I’ve attended the funerals of my next-door neighbor, a deacon in my church ... and losing community leaders like Mary Polite and Nancy Stephenson.
“I felt (people opposed to the mask ordinance) were being chastised, and I was disappointed that the mayor allowed (Young) to make such comments. I’ve served under a mayor (Dorothy Hubbard) who would have stopped such personal attacks.”
Davis said he would have to have the transcript from the meeting before he could determine if Fletcher breached protocol, but he said the minutes of the meeting would not be available until next week. He said that he was not aware, though, of any punishment or sanction for such a breach.