The Executive Session item referring to a job performance review of the fire chief was removed from the agenda with no explanation.
Town Councilman Nino Granatiero expressed frustration with what he called “general” questions in an exchange with a resident during public comment at the Town Council meeting Monday night at Swift Community Center. Caryn Corenthal had asked why the Town Council did not respond to questions posed by speakers during public comment.
“Since April, May, there’s been crickets. Nothing. No answer. I’ve asked a question. [Councilman] Mark [Schwager] asked a question, many other townspeople have asked questions. Nothing. I think you at least owe us a reason why you are not answering questions,” she said.
“When I’m asked a question directly, I answer it. I’m about the most upfront, honest person you’re ever going to meet,” responded Granatiero. “There have been very, very general and very vague things said at public comment. … I can’t answer general things. I’ve had people come up here and call me a racist, a misogynist, a bully. None of this stuff is true. And I’m not going to sit here and answer it.”
A bit later he said,
“If anybody has sent me an email over the past six, eight, nine months – it feels like nine years – I’ve answered it, OK? … But I will not answer general things, because what I find is when you answer general things, it gets twisted around. And frankly I don’t have the time for this crap…. So, if you have specific questions about the town, and how things are going, et cetera, I’d be happy to answer that.”
After the meeting, Granatiero said he was hearing from many residents outside of the Town Council meetings – five times as many – who are in support for what the Town Council is doing. With regard to the people who attend the meetings – according to the fire marshal, 104 people attended the meeting Monday – Granatiero said most were union supporters.
The meeting got to public comment – the final item on the public agenda – in 15 minutes, far quicker than for usual Town Council meetings. That’s because the agenda was brief and a couple of items were tabled, notably the item “Town Council Rules and Guidelines.”
Vice President Sean Todd, who ran the meeting because Council President Sue Cienki was absent, said the rules and guidelines would be tabled but that the town manager and other town employees would review them Tuesday.
During Council Comments, Councilman Mark Schwager had asked what method Town Solicitor David D’Agostino had used to decide what rules should be changed.
“There are some new changes that I don’t remember being raised in a meeting before. Where are these coming from?” Schwager asked.
“They are really just recommendations that I’ve made based on seeing how things develop with the council,” D’Agostino said.
Councilman Andy Deutsch said he thought the first rule, about adding items to the agenda, should not be changed, in particular, that two councilors could add something to the agenda. The draft released with the meeting agenda had changed that language to “Any two members of Council may request items be added to the agenda,” putting more power in the hand of the council president.
“It’s important that it remain two counselors,” Deutsch said.
Nine people spoke during public comment Monday. In addition to Corenthal, five spoke out with questions or complaints about recent Town Council actions. Another woman praised the EMTs of the EG Fire Department, who she said had saved her life several times in recent months. Ed Field said he was glad the Town Council cut taxes this year.
“We support your efforts to consolidate services where you can, to save money where you can and to control expenses where you can,” he told the council.
The final commenter, Fat Belly’s owner and EG resident Scott Parker, said he was there to register his unhappiness with the valet situation on Main Street. He said valet drivers working for other restaurants were parking cars on Main Street in front of his establishment and it was hurting business.
– Elizabeth F. McNamara