The Guilderland Town Board meeting broke down into quarreling along partisan lines Tuesday, March 4, and was adjourned by Supervisor Kenneth Runion with the support of Democratic board members Patricia Slavick and Paul Pastore, and Town Clerk Rosemary Centi.
The fighting began during the approval of minutes for the Feb. 12 meeting. Republican board member Mark Grimm contested the validity of the minutes and claimed that the minutes were not a fair and accurate representation of the meeting. He said that some of his comments were not included in the minutes and others were summarized too briefly compared to those of other members of the board.
He argued that the minutes should be recorded as either a word-for-word transcription or a bare bones outline. Grimm claimed the current process of recording minutes is unfair and not conducive to open government, and he made the accusation that the minutes are being used as a partisan tool.
In response to Grimm’s accusations, Centi stressed that the recording of minutes was her responsibility and that during her past eight years as town clerk no one had complained about inaccuracy.
Slavick agreed and stated that she had reviewed minutes from previous years and found that they were a sufficient and accurate representation of previous meetings.
Pastore stated that it was each board member’s personal responsibility to review the minutes, and Centi pointed out that Grimm could review the minutes and include anything that he felt was omitted as an attachment. Centi also pointed out that the alternate version of the Feb. 12 minutes that Grimm submitted to the board did not include comments made by Guilderland residents during the public comment period. Centi accused Grimm of omitting the comments of residents who disagreed with him and stated that it was a process not conducive to open government.
During the public comment period Caroline Williams questioned Grimm’s and fellow Republican board member Warren Redlich’s claims that the current assessment process is unfair and stated that neither board member had provided information on how the process was broken. Williams stated that the assessment process was a state process and that if the board members felt that it was broken that they needed to address the issue on a state level.
Christine Marshall, a civil service employee of many years, discussed how the position of police chief is a competitive class civil service position and sought to explain the process of open competitive appointments.
Redlich requested to question each of the speakers, but only Marshall agreed. During questioning, Redlich rephrased Marshall’s comments in a manner she contested.
Interactions among board members became even more heated during this time, as voices were raised and members interrupted each other and the speakers. Runion moved to adjourn the meeting due to this lack of civility and the board’s inability to move on to the items on the agenda, and all members were in favor except Redlich and Grimm. The audience applauded the adjournment.
After the meeting Runion described the conduct as inappropriate and `treating the public poorly, totally disruptive.` Runion stated that he was `sending a clear message to the board to clean up its act and be respectful to each other and the public.`
The board met on March 4 with the intention of discussing a re-zoning request, the Safe Routes to School Program, Glassworks Village, and other issues pertinent to the Guilderland community. The issues and the other items on the March 4 agenda will be discussed at the next board meeting on Tuesday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Guilderland Town Hall. Meetings are also broadcast live on Channel 17. “