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Council Chaos as Igliozzi Remains Finance Chairman for Time Being

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

 

A meeting called to oust the chairman of the City Council finance committee ended without a change Monday following a three-hour ordeal that left Council members angry, pointing fingers and threatening to take legal action to resolve their conflict.

Three members of the 5-person committee were expected to vote to remove chairman John Igliozzi from his post, a move that stemmed from Igliozzi’s decision last month to call for changes to the city’s landmark pension reform ordinance only days after voting in favor of the plan.

But Igliozzi, who was joined in the meeting by his 6-foot-5, 300-plus pound buddy who said he was in attendance because “you never know in this city,” pulled out all the stops to remain in power for at least another day, questioning several Council rules and demanding a written opinion from city solicitor Jeff Padwa before he relinquishes his post.

Igliozzi initially attempted to adjourn just minutes into the meeting, but after Council members and assistant solicitor Adrian Southgate objected, the group discussed their different interpretations of certain rules. Igliozzi argued that chairmen of committees are appointed for four years unless they are unable to serve, just like the President of the Council. He suggested that allowing committee members to hold an election at any time could set off a frenzy of elections “every other week when people get mad.”

After several minutes, Igliozzi announced the meeting was going into recess until a written decision was rendered. At that time, the meeting stopped being recorded and City Clerk Anna Stetson left the room. Stetson later told two reporters that everything discussed during the recess was “off the record.”

“This is an embarrassment,” Councilman David Salvatore remarked after the majority of colleagues left the room. Salvatore was slated to be named the new chairman.

For the next several hours, a game of political chess played out mostly behind closed doors with Igliozzi and Councilman Terry Hassett on one side and Salvatore and Councilman Sam Zurier on the other. Councilwoman Sabina Matos, the other committee member who was planning to vote Igliozzi out left to attend a community meeting. She returned just before 8:00pm, but a vote never took place.

Several other Council members also remained in the building, including Kevin Jackson, who accused the Taveras administration of playing too much of a role in Council business. Jackson said he believes the administration wants Igliozzi removed from his post.

“The path of least resistance is always the best way to get what you want,” Jackson said.

But Igliozzi maintains the issue is larger than simply his place on the finance committee. He claims allowing committee members to hold an election “whenever they want” could open a “Pandora’s box” that would lead to “chaos” within city government. He said he is considering bringing in an outside lawyer to offer an opinion as well.

“This is going to become a constitutional issue,” Igliozzi said. “This is about, is this a democracy or not?”

Igliozzi said he believes the “road my colleagues are heading down” is dangerous for the city.

“This is unprecedented,” Igliozzi said. “The city solicitor’s decision has the potential to upend city government.”

A written ruling from Padwa could be released as soon as today.

 

Dan McGowan can be reached at dmcgowan@golocalprov.com.
 

 

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