In point of fact it wasn’t a Council meeting that we attended this evening in the Council Chambers of the Municipality. It was actually an “Information Session”, a session specifically designed for the recently elected Councillors as well as any other members of local Boards and Committees who cared to attend. It was in my capacity as a Board member that I joined in this enterprise.
My specific intention for attending, however, was to put a face to the man with whom I had dealt on previous occasions, an exceedingly pleasant lawyer from a nearby County Town, a man whom I had never met in person. This gentleman was giving this evening’s address to Council on the prickly issue of “Conflict of Interest”.
Perhaps because the upcoming Information Session didn’t oblige the Councillors to study an agenda or Minutes of a previous meeting there was an air of festivity which pervaded the Council Chambers as people began drifting in. Pleasantries were exchanged between those in attendance. In the process it was apparent that strong personalities were present, particularly those Councillors who had been returned by the electorate for another term. The newer members of Council kept a relatively low profile, even confining themselves to their seats before the Council table. Several of the long-standing Councillors “circulated” among the gathering crowd.
The presentation given by the Solicitor was succinct and intelligible, capitalizing on brevity and important points, sometimes repeated for purposeful effect. The understandably dry presentation gave way to more florid discussion in what followed. In was in this arena that several Councillors made their gambit to prove their worth. One such Councillor, exuding the body language of enormous confidence and conviction, attempted to engage the Solicitor in what the Councillor considered to be the more esoteric points of the issue but not without seemingly having lost both his own way and his listeners in the process. The Solicitor wisely persisted in sticking to the fundamentals. Another second-term Councillor considered it her duty to relate the intelligence she and the newly elected Mayor had gathered from another recent information session given by legal persons whose opinion she was certain the Solicitor admired though without naming them. Yet another returned candidate sought to muddy the waters by interjecting the complicating possibility of a Councillor’s interest in a public traded company, only to have his thesis visibly dashed when the Solicitor suggested that such minority interests as his would not trigger a conflict. The discussion continued around the Council table until at last all possible scenarios had been exhausted.
Afterwards there was some commiserating among those in attendance. The consensus was that we had all profited by the lecture given to us by the Solicitor. We left the building in the company of the Solicitor, wishing one another a safe home!