POUND — Town Council took no action following a lengthy closed session with its town clerk treasurer officially identified as for the "protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business."
Mayor and interim Town Manager George Dean called the meeting productive.
Also, council did not take action as planned on paperwork required as part of its funding application for a new police car.
As he opened the July 22 special meeting, Dean said he wasn't certain of the precise nature of the personnel issue that brought them there.
"I was not privy to that, so ask the clerk treasurer," Dean said. "He wanted the special-called meeting for personnel issues."
Clerk Treasurer Jeremy Mullins made the request to Dean following council's meeting the week before.
The mayor sought specificity when Councilman Glenn Cantrell moved to go into closed session for personnel, first under code section 2.2-3711A subsection 1 but then amending it to subsection A4.
The town attorney was not at the meeting.
Councilman Clifton Cauthorne said he also was in the dark about the reason for the closed session. He abstained from the vote to convene, saying he didn't know what it was about.
Cauthorne also voted against the required closed meeting certification, in which council members affirm they only talked about what they said they would when they went behind closed doors.
The Virginia open meeting law says any member of a public body who believes there was a departure from the state requirements shall say so before the vote, "indicating the substance of the departure that, in his judgment, has taken place. The statement shall be recorded in the minutes of the public body."
That didn't happen at the meeting.
Contacted afterward, Cauthorne said in an email that the "stated reason for our closed meeting was: 'The protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business.'
"When the conversation in closed session turned towards my eligibility to serve on council based upon my employment as a chaplain at Red Onion (State Prison), I felt like the closed session no longer came under the purview of that purpose."
Cantrell and Councilman Danny Stanley voted in favor of certification. Vice Mayor Jay Graham and Councilman Phil Cantrell were absent.
Council promptly adjourned without further discussion.
While council intended to take action on minutes of the previous meeting, there was no such agenda item.
When the meeting opened, Cauthorne asked Dean to explain that the meeting was called for two purposes, including to approve the minutes of the meeting in which council authorized pursuing grant and loan funding for a new police car.
That would not be on the night's agenda, Dean said, because Councilman Graham had recorded the meeting but had not yet forwarded the information to the clerk for preparation for the meeting.
All council members but Cauthorne support purchasing another police car.