Berne Town Board appoints new GOP member then defeats motion to allow public comment at all meetings
Noah Zweifel is reporting for The Altamont Enterprise the Berne Town Board March 10, voted to appoint Republican Leo Vane Jr. to fill the vacancy left by the February 1, resignation of Mathew Harris, an Independence Party member backed by the GOP. Vane’s appointment was approved on a vote of 3 to 0, with the board’s lone Democrat, Joel Willsey abstaining because, in his words, he “didn’t know the fellow.” Supervisor Sean Lyons said Vane “has similar ideas and philosophies as myself and has been a valued supporter. ...I am confident he will work hard for the people of Berne, like [board members] Dennis [Palow], Bonnie [Conklin] and I do.” Vane is a retired airline pilot for American Airlines, where he served as a union president for nine years; he moved to Berne 26 years ago. Vane said, “with the political climate in the country right now, I thought this was an ideal time to get on the town board and maybe make a difference. ... My biggest concern is for the residents that live in this community.” He said that he has “every intention” of running for election to the town board this November, when three seats become available. Immediately after Vane was sworn in, he voted with two other board members to defeat a motion made by Democrat Willsey to allow public comment at the Berne meetings. Residents have been complaining for some time about the lack of opportunity for public comment at every meeting, as residents of neighboring towns are able to do at their town board meetings. In January, the New York Coalition for Open Government released a report critical of that lack of opportunity, among other things. Vane said later that he supports the opportunity for residents to address the board in an open meeting, but wants to see stricter limitations. Read the full story in the Altamont Enterprise.