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City Council Moves Swiftly Ends With Old Zoom Debate

The Dillon City Council held the first meeting for march last night. Starting out with reports from city representatives. Both City Attorney Dolan and Chief of Police Guiberson mentioned the event to be held on St Patrick’s day and that they are working to get more information on it.

Tree board member and Council Person Mary Jo O'Rourke made the statement that Dillon has been the recipient of the Tree City USA award the past ten years. Each year Dillon receives a flag for this award. They would like to show off these awards in town. One place of interest would be on flag poles like they do in Anaconda.

Council Person Mary Jo O'Rourke stated:

They do not want to permanently display them the main thought would be during April which is arbor month.”

One suggestion from Council Person Wassall was to display them in conjunction with the American flag on private flag poles. This started the conversation on whether a flag can be displayed on the same pole as the American flag.

According to flag etiquette rules they are as follows:

Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on the Same Rope or Staff

When flags of states, cities, corporations, or organizations are flown on the same flagpole with the flag of the United States, they are flown beneath the U.S. flag. The flag beneath may be the same size or smaller than the U.S. flag, but never larger. More rules on flag etiquette can be found here.

The meeting moved along smooth and in a rapid pace. Final discussions up dealt with the replacement of a stainless-steel ladder, at the cost of $17,000 in the west reservoir. The main problem was this had been approved in 2019 but the company that does this could not get it done. The price has greatly increased as the price in steel has increased. Some council members felt that if they approve this it needs to have a price lock in and guarantee. The mayor stated he does not believe that they can get the price locked in, but the company guaranteed we would be on their schedule if it was approved.

During the wrap up with public comment, the use of Zoom was brought up by Council Person O'Rourke asking how the meeting policy will continue to work with Zoom. The city is coming up on the 1-year mark that they made it so a council person could use Zoom for the meetings and still vote. This was a hot debate about seven months back that ended with council person Wassall threatening to sue the city over the use of Zoom, claiming ADA discrimination.

Council Person Wassal brought up that this matter is directly aimed at him. He stated he sent the Mayor an email ten days ago and never received a response. The mayor stated he got the email late Thursday and never opened it tell Friday morning. He is responding to the email and wanted it to be proper.

Wassall then stated:

“I made it clear for about a year now I am attending these meetings and doing so under the representation that I have a claim for reasonable accommodation under ADA using Zoom.”

After a few back-and-forth Council person Wassell stated that Zoom is not for just the benefit of the Council Members but also for the public. This also gives the general public the safety needed due to the environment of the council chambers of no masking and social distancing.

The main problem is they are not taking Zoom from the general public, Council Members need to be at the Council Meetings physically to vote on the topics and agendas. This was the main problem that started the debate and threat of a lawsuit. Council Person Graham stated it was in the rules that you needed to be physically present for this. The Council voted then to allow Zoom to be used for one year by Council Members. With the vaccine being distributed and many of the at-risk council members fitting the 1-B phase the need for Zoom and reasonable accommodations should be lifted. Many at risk business owners, and workers have had to continue to attend the store or work in the public. They did not have a choice the council members who chose to run for that position should also be expected to show up and represent their district.

Watch the full meeting here:

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