The Town Council called into question the assistant town moderator’s decision at the Town’s Deliberative Session to restrict comments and materials from Councilor Joe Green, saying it was “a disservice.”
“As a Councilor, my job is to get information out to the public. I’m talking about pocket-book issues and I’m trying to make sure everything I see is getting out to the public,” Green said.
Assistant Town Moderator Bob Saur said he chose not to allow Green to display a chart showing annual increases in overtime costs because it had not been submitted in advance of the meeting as required.
Saur also directed Green when he began to discuss overtime costs to limit his comments to those related to the article amendment at hand – the funding of an additional four firefighters.
“My intention was not to restrict his comments, my issue was only with the materials,” Saur said. “Just as with any other presenter who would want to put materials on display on the projector, we would have wanted to see them ahead and make them available to the public.”
Saur added that any decision made by the moderator can be overruled by vote.
“That did happen to a decision I made at that same meeting. If Mr. Green felt my decision was inappropriate, he was entitled to a mechanism to overrule my decision and chose not to,” he said. “The goal of the moderator is to give everyone an even playing field to work within and let everyone have their say, but also in a fair and consistent manner. My intention was to ensure we kept that fairness and consistency in the meeting.”
Green presented his table at the Town Council meeting on Monday night, it details a steady increase in the Fire Department’s overtime costs over the past five years – from $350,000 to $850,000.
“In my opinion, the money (for additional firefighters) is already there,” he said.
Green went on to say he supports the firefighters 100 percent, but doesn’t support paying for things twice.
“Green was done a disservice that day,” Councilor John Farrell said. “If you come down here, we should listen. It doesn’t matter if we don’t agree with you. The people in that room and the people who care to participate should be able to get up and speak and we all should listen. Whether he was right or wrong, he should have been allowed to say what he wanted to say.”
“At the Deliberative Session, we’re supposed to deliberate. But you got one side at our Deliberative Session due to a disservice by our assistant moderator. I think what happened to Green was a terrible disservice to someone who was just trying to share some numbers and disagreed with the group that day,” Councilor Tom Freda said. “Everyone can take a side on the issue. The point is to let everyone say their side. I blame myself for not doing more to defend Mr. Green.”