Mr. Lewis was not alone in his protest. The article in the 3-18-2019 edition of the Times Observer, “Lewis cites conflict of interest in roundabout vote,” did not include the information that several citizens were present in the gallery during the meeting; some had come prepared with statements to address council about the same issue. I was one of them. This is what I said:
“It is without pleasure that I bring this matter before council tonight. Council by precedent, if not by requirement of the Home Rule Charter has chosen to use Roberts Rules of Order to conduct meetings and legislative process. This has been most recently demonstrated during the meetings to process the roundabout vs enhanced intersection decision (i.e. Roberts Rules regarding procedures for reconsideration and rescinding motions regarding the roundabout.)
“In Roberts Rules of Order 11th edition on page 470 it states ‘No member shall vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization.’ This Roberts Rule is known to most, if not all, council members because there has been more than one occasion since I personally have been attending council meetings when a council member has abstained from voting on a question because of a conflict of interest.
“It is a very serious matter when a council member does not recuse him/ herself from voting on a question that he or she knows or should know that a conflict exists and pursues their personal interest without being able to consider arguments for the other alternative (s).
“In the case of the roundabout vs intersection at Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue West, at least publicly, PennDOT officials did not recommend one alternative over the other; that was one of the points of their public presentation. According to their statements both alternatives were safe and appropriate. They said those factors were so close, they would not make a recommendation for one alternative over the other. The public presenting themselves at council meetings by an overwhelming majority did not want a roundabout for the many reasons they gave.
“Of more importance than what Roberts Rules state is what the law says, specifically, what the Home Rule Charter of the City of Warren says about conflicts of interest and limits on the conduct of councils powers. In Article V. Council—Powers, Duties, Limitations and Legislation, Section 11.5-503, Subsection (3) it states “Any councilman who shall have a special personal or financial interest in any matter before council shall abstain from voting on the question and shall inform council of his reasons for abstention.”
“What is abundantly clear from today’s public letter in the WTO by a sitting council member is that at least one member did have a special personal interest that prevented him from serving the public by being unable to consider the alternatives to a roundabout because of a bias cause by his personal interest and did not abstain from voting as the Charter requires. That vote violated Charter law and should be negated.
“My request as a citizen of the City of Warren is that an immediate halt be brought to the process of implementing a roundabout because the council vote to sign a maintenance agreement for a roundabout is no longer valid.”