20 Aug 2014
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Greenwich BOE Chairmanship Undecided

An unusual 4-3-1 vote has put off installment of the first Democratic board chairman since 1979.

Greenwich BOE Chairmanship Undecided Greenwich BOE Chairmanship Undecided Greenwich BOE Chairmanship Undecided Greenwich BOE Chairmanship Undecided

Greenwich will have to wait a little longer to find out whether a Democrat will chair its Board of Education for the first time in more than 30 years.

It's unclear whether a 4-3 vote with one abstention in favor of a Democrat for the chairmanship during Tuesday night's board meeting constitutes a "majority vote," according to Town Attorney John Wayne Fox.

Current Vice Chair Leslie Moriarty, a Democrat, was nominated for the position, as was current board Chairman Steve Anderson.

Here's how the votes broke down, after Town Clerk Carmella Budkins swore in new members Jennifer Dayton, Adriana Ospina, Barbara O'Neill and Peter von Braun:

  • Dayton, Kail, Moriarty and Ospina supporting Moriarty
  • Anderson, O'Neill and von Braun supporting Anderson
  • Board member Peter Sherr abstaining

After the vote, Fox was asked to give his opinion on what constitutes a majority of the Board.

Fox said the question is a "fair" one which he has spent a significant amount of time contemplating and researching. According to Fox, the 4-3-1 vote doesn't constitute a majority of the full board, which would be five. Therefore, he said, no chairman has been elected.

Moriarty made a motion for the matter to be referred to Board of Education Attorney Tom Mooney. Anderson countered that the board relies on the opinion of the town attorney (Fox) as a basis for its actions. 

Dayton said the board had nothing to lose by seeking a second opinion. Anderson said he was concerned that such a move would set a precedent to "shop for a second opinion," but that it would remove doubt as to the interpretation. The board voted 8-0 to seek an opinion from Mooney for no more than $5,000.

The last Democrat to lead the Greenwich Board of Education was Beverly Jomo, who served on the panel from 1971-1979, chairman for the last four.

Moriarty suspended the election until Thursday, Dec. 1, when the Board of Education will meet again for a 7 p.m. Work Session at the Havemeyer Building.

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