"City Attorney Rita Danish
...may not yet be a full-fledged member of the liberal wing of the council
...she is certainly a pledge.
...she played right along with Perkins in disrupting the conservatives' plan.
Danish made bizarre rulings at the prompting of Perkins,
one of which disqualified Councilmember Danny Thompson
from continuing to participate in the meeting by telephone.
She said that she would allow Councilmember Zack Matheny to participate
and allowed Councilmember Dianne Bellamy-Small to continue to participate
by telephone during the entire meeting.
According to a strict interpretation of the rules,
none of the three should have been allowed to participate by telephone.
Danish told the City Council that the ordinance governing participating by telephone at a meeting,
"Does not allow people to call in, hang up and then call back again."
She said that allowing someone to call in,
hang up and then call back would be "directly contrary to the ordinance itself and to practice."
After Danish made that ruling that Thompson could not participate in the meeting
...Wade was provided with a copy of the council rules for participating in a meeting by telephone.
After reconvening, Wade said, "I can't find anything that says if you leave you cannot come back."
Danish said, "That is correct. It does not say that."
Wade made her point again and Danish said,
"It doesn't specifically allow hanging up and calling again."
Danish explained that she thought it was important that the meeting not be interrupted.
Does that make it illegal?
...Wade said that it was not stated in the law that you couldn't call back
and there was no way Thompson could have known that because,
"This is an interpretation you made up today with Mr. Perkins and then informed Mayor Knight."
Perkins said before the meeting that some folks on the council were trying to be sneaky
but that he had a few tricks himself.
He said that those who were trying to be sneaky had better make sure they knew all the rules,
but he wouldn't elaborate on what he was talking about.
During the break after the vote,
Perkins explained that before the meeting he had been outside the mayor's office
and that Knight, Rakestraw and Wade were in the office talking to Thompson on the phone,
and "the door was open just a little too much."
He said he heard Wade say, "I will text you when we need you to come on and vote."
Perkins said, "So I asked the city attorney about telephonic voting and she explained it to me."
During the meeting...Perkins asked what the rules were for voting by telephone.
Danish's interpretation during the meeting was exactly what Perkins wanted,
despite the fact that the ordinance does not state what Danish said it did.
...Danish said that her conversation about participation in a meeting by telephone with Perkins
was limited to Perkins asking her if she knew what the law was and she responded that she did.
...she was coming up with a brand new interpretation of the rules for participating by telephone.
Danish did say that she spoke to Knight just before the meeting
but Knight says that he misunderstood what Danish said.
...It does seem strange that she didn't tell anyone but Knight and Perkins.
And Wade made the point that all councilmembers
should have been informed before the meeting that the rules had changed.
Danish provided Perkins with a real gotcha moment,
whether that was her intent or not.
The city attorney is supposed to represent all councilmembers equally."