by Rick Langenberg:
Political Tensions Flare Up Again
So much for peace, love and unified gestures at Green Mountain Falls town hall meetings.
Following a two week-long truce, when the GMF Board of Trustees appeared to get along, the familiar political soap opera feuds resurfaced last week, with questions raised about violating open meeting laws stepping on toes and designating various trustee duties. For several months, the board has been hampered by much political tension and arguments over following proper procedures and even allegations of attempts to get rid of certain members. Recently, the board reached a mini-truce, in the wake of an earlier meeting in January that attracted a standing-room-only crowd. “We are committed to working together and moving forward,” said Mayor Lorrie Worthey, at the close of a somewhat tense session.
But now, that truce may be wishful thinking. The latest GMF squabble dealt with a last-minute request to alter the board of trustees’ designated responsibilities. Trustee Mac Pitrone proposed altering the town departments the elected leaders oversee to have Howard Price placed in charge of the marshal’s office, instead of serving as the main liaison to the business community. Instead, Pitrone suggested that newly-appointed member Margaret Peterson handle that job. “Howard would make a fine trustee for the marshal’s office,” announced Pitrone, at the beginning of the board’s Feb. 19 meeting. Pitrone also stressed that the plan would suit the skills of Peterson, who has a good relationship with the business community.
But Pitrone’s announcement got a less than favorable reaction from the mayor, who has been overseeing the marshal’s department for the last several months, when the trustees lacked a full board. “This is news to me,” blasted Worthey. “We are blind-siding each other again.” The mayor stated that she has enjoyed her current role in overseeing the marshal’s agency. Moreover, she asked if several trustees met privately with each other to discuss this issue, prior to the Feb. 19 meeting, which would constitute a violation of open meeting laws.
The proposed changes also didn’t meet the approval of Trustee and former Mayor Tyler Stevens. He especially raised a red flag when informed that the new change hadn’t even been discussed with GMF Marshal Tim, Bradley. “It is poor management,” blasted Stevens, “I cannot accept that.” Unless talks occurred with the marshal, he said he preferred to keep the status quo arrangement and designation of duties among the current board. Stevens noted that when he served as mayor, he was placed in charge of the marshal’s office and stated that the arrangement worked well. “I think you did a lousy job,” countered Pitrone, in referring to Stevens’ previous stint as the manager of the marshal’s office. Pitrone said that past practices of the board have favored having the trustees alter their responsibilities
He said the mayor’s designation as an overseer of the marshal’s department was only intended for a temporary period. Pitrone’s opinions were supported by Trustee Ralph LoCascio. LoCascio said he wasn’t happy with the current arrangement that had Worthey as the elected official in charge of the marshal’s department.
Finally, a vote was summoned and the board agreed to approve the change by a 5-2 tally, with Worthey and Stevens casting the no tallies. Worthey opted to move onto other business immediately and didn’t make any further comments regarding this issue. However, in following previous trends, both she and Stevens promptly vetoed requested approvals of the town’s bills and previous minutes, actions that somewhat baffled their fellow peers.
And later in the meeting during public comment, the trustee designation feud escalated again and turned into an outright shouting match when Marshall Worthey, the mayor’s husband and a former trustee member, heavily criticized the board’s move in naming Price as Bradley’s boss. Moreover, he suggested that the majority of elected leaders have picked a trustee member who has an ax to grind with the marshal. “You have made a poor decision,” stated Marshall Worthey, who recounted an incident at last summer’s Bronc Day, when Price reportedly public reamed the marshal on the main street in front of many people. The former trustee said he previously filed a complaint regarding Price’s outburst, which partially dealt with the town’s ongoing controversy over traffic tickets. And now, he wonders why the trustees have picked the same person to oversee the marshal’s office. “I am tired of this crap,” retorted Price, who said his comments to the marshal were made as a local citizen and not as a trustee member. “You are held to a higher standard,” replied Marshall Worthey. “I can’t wait for what you put on Facebook,” blasted Price, in reference to concerns some leaders have about social media and blog postings made by supporters of the mayor against the majority of the trustee members.
Both Price and LoCascio left the proceedings shortly after this dispute.