Council Session Devolves Into Yelling Match; Cienki Adjourns Meeting

by | Jul 24, 2017

July 10, 2017 – Town Council President Sue Cienki adjourned the meeting tonight after some in attendance began complaining they could not hear what was being said and asked that the meeting be moved to a larger venue.

Soon after the meeting started, the council opened it up to public comment but people in the audience – particularly those in the balcony – complained they couldn’t hear and were heard to be counting the number of people in attendance, saying the meeting was too crowded. Council Chambers was full and there were people in the hallway outside as well as on the front steps of Town Hall.

After some back-and-forth yelling between audience members and Cienki, councilors consulted with Town Solicitor David D’Agostino, who recommended adjourning the meeting and reconvening at a later date, according to Councilman Mark Schwager.

Resident Nicole Bucka described the scene as “super tense.”

Another resident who was there said no one looked good during the meeting, but that the meeting should have been moved after councilors saw the number of people in attendance.

After the meeting, Cienki blamed union members for the disruption and said they should have told her they were planning to come.

“Had the union notified me they were bringing members, which they did not, we could have had the meeting at Swift [Community Center],” she said. “No one talked to me so the idea was to completely disrupt and behave in an uncivilized manner. It was unfortunate they chose to behave this way.”

Councilman Schwager said while there were union members in the audience – and noted that some union members are residents – there were also many residents in attendance.

“We’ve set events in motion that had a lot of unintended consequences,” he said, noting there were still a lot of unanswered questions.

“We still have so many things to discuss. The whole issue of the current town manager’s contract, the search for the new town manager, the consolidation process. We initiated the consolidation process on June 26. We still have not signed a memorandum of agreement with the School Committee.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t have job descriptions for any of the new consolidated positions. We don’t have an organizational chart. We don’t know who works for who,” he said, referring to personnel changes that were made June 30.

When asked if this process could have been handled better, Cienki said, “People don’t like change and the reality is we have $210,000 firefighters when [Public Works Director] Joe Duarte is in need to equipment and the sewage treatment plant is in need of repairs. … People may want to ignore these fiscal facts but they aren’t going away.”

– Elizabeth F. McNamara

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