Beth­le­hem coun­cil­man apol­o­gizes for rules vi­o­la­tion

But claims he wasn’t only one to break deco­rum

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ni­cole Radzievich

Beth­le­hem City Coun­cil­man Bryan Cal­la­han apol­o­gized Tues­day night for vi­o­lat­ing coun­cil’s rules on deco­rum dur­ing last month’s de­bate over a Zon­ing Hear­ing Board ap­point­ment and for al­low­ing an ex­change with Coun­cil­man J. Wil­liam Reynolds to turn per­sonal.

Cal­la­han had spent 40 min­utes at the Aug. 20 meet­ing pub­licly air­ing his griev­ances af­ter his col­leagues blocked the ap­point­ment of a nom­i­nee he sup­ported.

Cal­la­han said Tues­day night he’s not the only one who vi­o­lated Robert’s Rules of Or­der dur­ing that meet­ing. Cal­la­han played sev­eral recorded ex­cerpts when Reynolds and Coun­cil­woman Paige Van Wirt were speak­ing. Cal­la­han ques­tioned why he was the only one called out on break­ing deco­rum and re­quested that the rules be ap­plied equally.

“Mr. Reynolds got per­sonal with me and brought up a per­sonal con­ver­sa­tion that I had with him. And that’s what I re­gret. For that, Mr. Reynolds, for my re­sponse back to you, I apol­o­gize,” said Cal­la­han, once a po­lit­i­cal ally of Reynolds.

Reynolds had said he be­lieves Cal­la­han’s ten­dency to turn a de­bate per­sonal has ruined his work­ing re­la­tion­ship with most mem­bers of coun­cil, point­ing to two times when Cal­la­han called him an of­fen­sive name af­ter a meet­ing. One of those times was af­ter a 2018 vote to ap­point Van Wirt to coun­cil, prompt­ing Cal­la­han to ac­cuse Reynolds of sup­port­ing the ap­point­ment so that she could not over­shadow him in his own re­elec­tion.

“When I got elected, you said to me: We gotta hang to­gether so we’re a vot­ing bloc. I said no prob­lem, I’ll be with you on ev­ery­thing as long as you keep me in the loop and you don’t ever lie to me,” Cal­la­han had said Aug. 20. “And when you lied to me and stuck it in my back, that’s when I stopped hav­ing the dis­cus­sion with you be­cause I’m a man of prin­ci­ple.”

Cal­la­han was then called twice on a point of or­der be­cause at­tribut­ing mo­tives was a vi­o­la­tion of Robert’s Rules.

Be­fore Reynolds’ ref­er­ence to a per­sonal con­ver­sa­tion, Cal­la­han told his col­leagues Tues­day that he had only wanted to have the de­bate in pub­lic about whether to ap­point Carol Rit­ter to the Zon­ing Hear­ing Board in a pub­lic meet­ing.

Her nom­i­na­tion was pulled from the agenda af­ter coun­cil mem­bers ques­tioned whether she would re­cuse her­self from cases in­volv­ing donors to her failed coun­cil bid. Cal­la­han had ar­gued that do­na­tions from eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ests show that she sup­ports de­vel­op­ment that will bring union jobs. (Coun­cil on Tues­day unan­i­mously ap­pointed Peter Sch­neck to the po­si­tion in­stead.)

“I felt it was po­lit­i­cal retri­bu­tion, po­lit­i­cal re­venge ...” Cal­la­han said Tues­day.

His com­ment prompted an au­di­ence mem­ber to call out “mo­ti­va­tion,” a ref­er­ence to the Robert’s Rules vi­o­la­tion, and Coun­cil­woman Olga Ne­gron walked out of the meet­ing when Cal­la­han started play­ing ex­cerpts of the pre­vi­ous meet­ing. Ne­gron also had walked out of the Aug. 20 meet­ing.

In re­sponse to Cal­la­han’s mea culpa, Reynolds said: “Apol­ogy ac­cepted.”

Cal­la­han said he had got­ten pos­i­tive feed­back over the pub­lic de­bate. The meet­ing quickly be­came coun­cil’s most viewed video on YouTube.

But Pres­i­dent Adam Wal­dron said the re­ac­tions he got were that it was “cringe­wor­thy” and “em­bar­rass­ing.” He said he would con­tinue to use a light gavel to not sti­fle de­bate, but he didn’t like the tone and lack of deco­rum on dis­play at last month’s meet­ing.

“It’s my opin­ion that I think we can do bet­ter, and we must do bet­ter,” Wal­dron said.

NI­COLE RADZIEVICH/ THE MORN­ING CALL

Beth­le­hem City Coun­cil­man Bryan Cal­la­han plays an ex­cerpt of his col­leagues’ com­ments at a pre­vi­ous coun­cil meet­ing.

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