Finkelman Vows to Keep an Eye on Council Members Drilling In On Task Force Meetings

I've heard from a few folks furious that council member Sheffie Kadane, a vocal proponent of gas drilling within the city limits, sat with the gas drilling task force yesterday during its inaugural meeting. As Marc McCord, an anti-drilling activist, put it in the comments below: "He showed up, took a seat with the panel and participated in the discussion trying to sway the conversation in favor of allowing drilling. That is patently prejudicial and unfair to the process, and it should not be allowed." McCord said as much to task force chair Lois Finkelman after yesterday's meeting.

The city just posted the audio from yesterday's meeting to its Gas Drilling Task Force page, and initially Kadane says he's just there to listen. But eventually he speaks up -- because, as Kadane told me this afternoon, he thought that was cool by the committee. And it is, as far as Finkelman's concerned ... to a point.

"Now, if we end up with half the council up there talking, I'll put a stop to it," she tells Unfair Park. "Sheffie was pretty innocuous. I know Marc got his nose out of joint. That was a tremendous overreaction, and they have to realize there's a certain amount of respect and procedure involved in doing something like this, and if a council member wants to attend they can. But if they're dominating the discussion or overly participating, then we'll put a stop to it. Because then it becomes clear they didn't need us. They should have done it on their own."

Finkelman says she even invited Scott Griggs to attend -- and that, frankly, she's surprised more council members didn't show up to yesterday's inaugural meeting in order to "put their stamp on things" before things really get going.

The anti-drilling activists, she says, have to "be reasonable and can't be scared of the process," she says. "They're panicked they're going to get steamrolled and have to have confidence in the process. If they don't, they'll get ulcers, and I won't want to talk them, which won't be good for anybody."

But as far as the anti-drilling faction's concerned, Kadane's presence tips the scales in the pro-drilling side's favor -- because, after all, he's admittedly pro-drilling.

"Well, it's not actually pro-drilling," he says after saying he's pro-drilling. "It's more pro-property rights, and that's what it's all about. I've been involved in that area down the years, so I know a little something about it. People are afraid of something they don't know about, and they need to know what this is about -- how it's done, what the consequences of it are. And I think it's good. We need to do it.

"But I am not trying to run anything, and I am not trying to sway anybody. I am trying to give suggestions, and I'll be more than happy not to say anything and let them do what they want and make their decisions. It's just that I am interested. It's something this whole city's involved in, and we need to be involved in it. But if they want me to keep my mouth shut, I'll keep my mouth shut."

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