“You’re blind to what’s going on out there,” Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini told his colleagues on city council after they voted 8-4 to remove him from Tuesday’s meeting.
Vagnini’s expulsion from the meeting, which he attended virtually, came immediately after he talked over Mayor Paul Lefebvre, who’d attempted to rein in the councillor’s comments.
“T-t-t-t-t ... let me finish,” Vagnini said.
“That crosses a line, and we’re done,” Lefebvre responded, at which point he proceeded to read from the city’s procedure bylaw. The bylaw, which he had at the ready, reads:
In the event that a member persists in a breach of the rules of conduct after having been called to order by the chair:
- The chair shall request a vote without debate as to whether that member should be ordered to leave the meeting; and
- If a majority of members decides the question in the affirmative, the member in question shall immediately comply.
Further, Lefebvre recited a line from the bylaw regarding city council decorum, in which it’s stated that no person shall “engage in disruptive or distracting behaviour in such manner as to interrupt the proceedings.”
In a roll call vote, the following members voted to expel Vagnini from the meeting: Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent, Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre, Ward 7 Coun. Natalie Labbée, Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer, Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh, Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann and Mayor Paul Lefebvre.
The following members voted against expelling Vagnini: Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier, Ward 4 Coun. Pauline Fortin, Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti, and Vagnini (who abstained, which is counted as a no).
Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier was not at his seat during the vote, so did not weigh in.
“Thank you very much, colleagues,” Vagnini said in response to the vote. “You’re blind to what’s going on out there.”
Prior to the vote to expel Vagnini from Tuesday’s meeting, the Ward 2 councillor was in the process of lambasting the city for a series of public meetings regarding proposed changes to the city’s emergency services infrastructure.
“It was a dog and pony show,” Vagnini said, later alleging the city had a “hidden agenda” for the meetings, which Lapierre responded to by calling a point of order.
“The councillor is speaking about hidden agendas and other items, which is false information to the public and we don’t have to listen to this,” Lapierre said, urging Lefebvre to “please rein this councillor in with proper communication.”
For her part, Labbée, whose motion prompted city staff to initiate the series of public meetings on emergency services infrastructure changes, praised city staff for their handling of things.
“Our staff conducted themselves very professionally, and I was witness to that,” she said. “There was a great process involved.”
Vagnini had the most microphone time of any elected official during Tuesday’s meeting. Lefebvre repeatedly asked Vagnini to remain on topic, and city councillors declared several points of order in response to what Vagnini had to say.
The Ward 2 councillor also questioned the merit of the work done by city staff and consultants. At one point, Vagnini dismissed corporate services general manager Kevin Fowke’s comments regarding a facilities review of emergency services infrastructure as “fluff.”
As he did a few times during the meeting, Vagnini chased his comment with an apology for his choice of words.
Sudbury.com reached out to Vagnini by phone and email for his reaction to being voted out of Tuesday’s meeting, but he did not respond. It has been several months since Vagnini responded to an inquiry from Sudbury.com.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.