Thursday, July 17 was Chesapeake Beach Mayor Bruce Wahl’s birthday and he threw quite a surprise party for the members of the town council.
With five of six councilmembers present for the July town meeting and three of them opposed to a resolution to bond the Chesapeake Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) project, the issue that Wahl had implored the council to approve appeared dead.
Thanks to modern technology, however, Wahl had arranged for the absent councilmember, Robert Carpenter, to cast the tying vote from Africa, via the Internet. Wahl was then able to break the tie with his vote in favor of the resolution.
“I apologize for the trickery,” said Wahl, who received a smattering of applause from the audience. The action was completed amid protests from Councilwoman Dr. Valerie Beaudin, who said Wahl’s actions were “out of order.”
“I run this meeting,” Wahl retorted.
Later, during her remarks at the end of the meeting, Beaudin apologized to the citizens. “I should have seen a dirty trick coming and I should have abstained,” she said. “I got taken in.” Had one of the three councilmembers opposed to the resolution—Beaudin, Jeffrey J. Krahling and Eric M. Reinhardt—abstained, the motion would have failed as there would have been no tie to break.
Wahl, who took exception to Beaudin’s comments, stated “if Mr. Carpenter had been here the result would have been the same.”
Later, the mayor said he consulted with Town Attorney Elissa Levan about the legality of having Carpenter vote while not actually being at the meeting.
“We learned something tonight,” said Krahling. “If Bob can call in any of us can call in.”
Earlier in the meeting, Wahl labeled the bond resolution “a critically important piece of business for this town council.” The mayor added that the issuance of bonds and entering into a loan agreement with the Maryland Water Quality Financing Administration to pay the costs of the ENR project was “the normal way&r