It was the sound of silence that greeted Dover City Council's final attempt Monday to codify reasons why its members could be excused for missing council meetings.
For almost a month now, council members have tweaked the proposed change to the city's ordinance despite it apparently having only lukewarm support from the start.
The initial language laid out nine reasons for requesting to be excused from a meeting, along with a requirement to notify the city clerk's office in advance.
An amendment to the original language added a condition that a majority of council members present approve the absence. A second change added a clause that suspended a council member's paycheck following three consecutive missed appearances, even if the missed meetings had been previously excused.
One of the sponsors of the original amendment, Fourth District Councilman David L. Anderson, was not at Monday night's session because his Delaware National Guard unit is preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.
Had the revision passed, Anderson would have been the first council member to fall under its jurisdiction. He is scheduled to be absent for at least a year.
Opposition Monday night toward the change was evident early on, with none of the eight council members present rising to second a motion that the amendment, with its revisions, be put to a vote. Council President Tom Leary then called for a vote on the code change with only one revision.
That request also met with stony silence when Leary called for a second.
Leary finally called for a vote on the original code change, a request that met the same fate as the others. With no action taken, the code modification failed, thus ending the attempt to change into a hard and fast rule what had been a gentleman's agreement on missed meetings since council was founded in the 1920s.
Afterward, Third District Councilman Dave Bonar seemed to feel the issue was one of fairness.
"I think this action would have adversely affected Councilman Anderson," he said. "I also think the way our ordinance is currently written is sufficient to address absences by members of council. I don't believe anybody on council has ever abused the ability to take time off.
"Why fix something that isn't broken?" he asked.
In other actions, council sent back to the Parks, Recreation and Community Enhancement Committee a plan for a pocket park at the corner of North Street and Governors Avenue. That committee earlier in April approved a request to turn the site of a now-demolished building into a small park and amended the plan to include a placard from the group Women Against Violence in Every Relationship (WEAVER) calling attention to the problem of spousal abuse.
Page 2 of 2 - Second District Councilman Adam Perza thought it would be appropriate for the committee to consider additional plans for the area.
"This is not a comment on the WEAVER plan, and there may be other ideas for this land," Perza said, adding he felt it necessary to allow more input on the idea.
Council agreed to revisit the plan in two to three months.
"I just don't want the city taking any action without accepting other ideas," Perza said. "It's city land and I think we should have city input."