An attempt to jumpstart the process for replacing Clintonville Area Commission Chairman John DeFourny was halted Monday, May 21, before it could even begin.

An attempt to jumpstart the process for replacing Clintonville Area Commission Chairman John DeFourny was halted Monday, May 21, before it could even begin.

DeFourny, fixture on the advisory panel since about 1980, abruptly resigned May 16.

Over the weekend, Vice Chairman Nick Cipiti sent out a revised agenda for a special meeting that had already been scheduled for May 21 to restart the selection for the design of gateway signs. The revised agenda called for declaring DeFourny's District 8 post vacant and added "succession options discussion."

That sent up flares of indignation on the part of District 9 representative D Searcy, who circulated emails practically right up to the start of the meeting. These pointed out that the commission's bylaws require that vacancies be declared only in regular meetings and stating that special sessions could deal only with the topic previously announced.

After Searcy got neighborhood liaison Isom Nivins Jr. involved, he deferred to the City Attorney's Office, and on Monday afternoon, May 21, sent Searcy the following:

"I just got off the phone with (Assistant City Attorney) Steve Dunbar. He said: 'They can only take action on topics included in their notice of the special meeting. Any decisions made on other matters would be invalid.' "

In circulating that opinion, Searcy added her own thoughts:

"Nick won't talk with me about this issue. I pleaded with him not to do what he did. It will be interesting to see how they now proceed. They may not know that I know and proceed as though they don't have the information from the city attorney. If they are smart, they would scrap the whole issue of DeFourny's resignation at this meeting and do the (planning and development) process as promised to the community."

That's exactly what Cipiti did, announcing at the outset of the special meeting that, based on the advice from the city attorney's office, there would be no discussion regarding the District 8 vacancy. He further stated this would not take place until the area commission's next regular June 7.

"Last night Nick Cipiti did the right thing," Searcy wrote in an email circulated throughout the community Tuesday, May 22. "Rather than proceeding with an agenda that would have violated CAC bylaws, Nick Cipiti, in his role of acting chair of the CAC , announced that there would be no discussion of John DeFourny's resignation. Nick further stated that DeFourny's resignation would be an agenda item at the June 7 CAC regular meeting, which according to the CAC bylaws, is the proper time to address the issue.

"My appreciation to Nick for respecting the CAC bylaws and acting in the best interest of the CAC and the Clintonville community."