02/15/2006: "Controversial Ranker Visit to PC Meeting"
(Councilman Ranker & Randy Gaylord at Planning Commission Meeting(
Councilman Ranker's decision to ignore the advice of the Prosecuting Attorney, and the Chair of the Council, to drop-in and watch the Planning Commission struggle with the on-going review of the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) draft Ordinance, an Ordinance that was sent to them by the Council for their review and input, has resulted in controversy as to the appropriateness of his visit
As the meeting was in session, Ranker strode into the meeting room and sat down next to County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord. His sudden appearance was immediately noticed by PC Chair Agosta, who interrupted the proceedings to announce to the Commission that "I want to point out that Councilman Ranker has joined us", and then addressed Ranker by informing him that it made it uncomfortable for the Commission members to freely express their views when a Councilman is observing. Ranker replied that he was "just a fly on the wall", to which Agosta asked if he was "attending as a Councilman or as a private citizen"? Ranker replied that he was a Councilman, but he was not there to speak, only to listen.
Randy Gaylord told The Guardian that Ranker has asked him if it was alright to attend the meeting, and that Gaylord advised him that while legally he could attend, it was bad form for him to do so, and that it "has always been, it is, and always will be, the advice of the Prosecutors office, that the Council members not attend Planning Commission meetings, so as to avoid any suggestion or hint, that there is an attempt to influence the Commission's deliberations, or the process", and added that "it is important to maintain a separation of powers in government".
When Council Chair Lichter became aware of Ranker's plan to sit in on part of the meeting, he also advised against it, telling him "I don't think it is a very good idea", to which Ranker responded "It's okay, I checked with Randy". The Guardian asked Town Prosecutor Don Eaton what the Town policy was on Council members attending their Planning Commission meetings, and he also said the while it is legal for Council members to attend legislative sessions of the Commission, it would not be legal for them to attend quasi-judicial sessions, but any visits would be bad form, and if there was any action, by body language, uttering sighs, nodding or shaking of the head, that would be very bad form, and not advised, so as to not take a chance of that happening, he has always informed the Council not to attend any Commission meetings.
At one point during Ranker's stint as a "fly on the wall", he vigorously nodded his head in agreement with the direction the dialog was going by the Commission, and when asked by The Guardian if he realized he had done that, he said that he did, and as soon as he did, he caught himself and stopped, but that no one saw him do it, because he checked to see if any of the Commissioners were watching him, and they were not, they were looking at Randy Gaylord -who was sitting directly next to Ranker.