City Councilor Quits Job to Vote on Burlington Telecom Sale | Off Message

City Councilor Quits Job to Vote on Burlington Telecom Sale


Karen Paul recused herself at the October 30 council meeting. - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Karen Paul recused herself at the October 30 council meeting.
Burlington City Councilor Karen Paul (D-Ward 6) announced on Thursday that she had quit her job so she could vote on the Burlington Telecom sale.

Paul, a staff accountant with the accounting firm McSoley McCoy & Co., announced the decision in an email to other councilors and Mayor Miro Weinberger. She resigned three days after she recused herself, citing a professional conflict, from Monday's vote about BT's future. Her recusal forced the council to reschedule a vote on a winning BT bidder — either the co-op Keep BT Local or Canadian company Tucows — until next Monday, November 6.

"This morning, effective tomorrow, I have resigned my position with my employer which was the source of that professional conflict," Paul wrote in the email sent around 4 p.m. Thursday. "I intend to vote on the sale of BT assets on Monday evening."

When Paul recused herself during Monday's meeting, she said little about her conflict of interest. She did say it had come to light over the weekend and that the issue "has nothing whatsoever to do with the parties interested in purchasing Burlington Telecom."
Karen Paul, center, in an undated photograph - FILE
  • File
  • Karen Paul, center, in an undated photograph
Paul was expected to cast her vote for the Toronto-based Tucows and was part of a contingent of five councilors that visited the company's headquarters last Friday.

Councilors, too, were unsure about the nature of the conflict, council president Jane Knodell (P-Central District) said on Thursday morning, before the news had been released.

"It’s hard to know how serious the nature of the conflict is," Knodell said. "The timing of the discovery of the conflict is hard for me to understand."

According to Knodell, councilors are not required to specify what the conflict is in order to recuse themselves.

Later Thursday, it didn't matter.

"After eight years of working to address Burlington Telecom’s challenges ... I never imagined that I would find myself in a position where I would not be able to cast a vote on this most important decision," Paul wrote in her email. "I have worked to identify ways to resolve the conflict and have determined that there is only one way I can resolve the conflict," she said, referring to the resignation.

City attorney Eileen Blackwood "informed me that I may join the debate on this agenda item," Paul added.

Mayor Miro Weinberger lauded her decision. "Karen is an extremely hardworking and devoted City Councilor," Weinberger said in a written statement to Seven Days. "Her resignation shows just how committed she is to Burlington."

Paul has worked at the accounting firm since January 2016, according to her bio on the company website. Partners at the company declined to comment. Paul did not respond to requests for comment.