Been lately to a Boone Town Council meeting, virtually or, pre-COVID-19, in person?
We didn’t think so.
And why would you? To witness bloated meetings that, at best, end by 10 p.m., or at worst, ring through the early hours of the next day with a sideshow lack of decorum and leadership, and too often, a display of bullying behavior?
To be fair, Boone Town Council members labor hard, and the amount of work they must process on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis can be staggering. But this can be said of the leadership of any municipality. The work of governing is difficult, time-consuming and often thankless.
The increasing issue with the Boone Town Council is that their meetings need not be so onerous — and inconsiderate to its own members and the public — if our mayor would step up to a leadership role and apply the rules of order that are embedded in town code.
These rules are not complicated or abstract concepts. Indeed, most of us would recognize them from our childhood: speak when it’s your turn and you have permission, keep your comments to a time limit in consideration of everyone else who wants to speak and don’t make personal attacks against another speaker, among those.
Consistently, these and other rules are vacated during town meetings because Mayor Rennie Brantz will not enforce them, as is his right and responsibility. And just as consistently, that lack of enforcement leads to a flouting of those rules by one council member in particular, Sam Furgiuele.
For years, beginning with his time as town attorney and now as council member, we have witnessed Furgiuele monopolize and hijack town meetings to the detriment of productivity, his fellow council members and taxpayers — in terms of unnecessary staff time.
Of course, at times any council member can overstep bounds. But, when Furgiuele’s passion for town business is on full display, he can be condescending, bullying and theatrical to the point that little actual governing can take place.
Under Robert’s Rules of Order, the manual which boards have adopted and used since 1876, and by which town council is similarly guided, such behavior is disallowed.
Brantz has the responsibility as mayor, within town code, to enforce these rules uniformly and consistently. This is not happening today. To continue on the current path will lead to an increasingly demoralized board, and more importantly, a demoralized public.
Our town has a written code of ethics, which in part state that “town council members should set a good example for the community.”
We urge our mayor to take back his authority and not only lead, but take the lead on that example.