Tension and snide remarks filled the room of Village Hall Thursday evening for what should have been a calm, organized business meeting of the Garden City Board of Trustees. Instead, the fighting that occurred at the April 2 Organizational Meeting trickled over into the April 19 meeting, creating quite a scene.
The meeting started off calm with the swearing in of Garden City firefighters and the approval of volunteer firefighter James Tauton, but the atmosphere soon turned tense as Garden City Mayor Donald T. Brudie again addressed the issue of his recent appointments.
“This year’s mayoral trustee committee appointments have sparked unprecedented dissent of five of the eight trustees that is impeding village progress," Brudie said. "Sadly, this conduct emphasizes friction and appears to fracture the community."
“On April 18, 2012, I read the e-mail from Trustee Donnelly, sent on behalf of the five dissenting trustees, which seeks to usurp the mayor’s appointment authority,” Brudie stated. “The most disturbing difference between these slates of assignments is that Trustee Donnelly appoints himself Police Liaison. This position does not exist, but rather has been obviously fabricated to satisfy his own ego.” (He elaborated on the issue more in his weekly opinion column on Patch.)
Brudie’s statement peeved Trustee Donnelly, sparking him to make a motion to suspend the mayor’s appointments. The difference in Donnelly’s appointments verses Brudie’s appointments were few, but enough to incite a personal attack between Donnelly and Brudie and tension among the entire board.
“We have approached this from Day One, trying to be collaborative,” said Trustee Brian Daughney. “We have tried to be accommodating over and over,” he added, also stating that the mayor seems not to understand that the board has almost the same amount of power that he does. As a result, Daughney stated that he would be voting for the assignments put forth by Trustee Donnelly.
“The mayor claims to be open and honest,” said Trustee Donnelly. “ I find that this mayor never tells the truth, he tells what is expedient to himself.”
Trustee Nicholas Episcopia also added to the friction. “I would just like to clarify one point,“ he said. "I never spoke to village counsel about anything asking to be the deputy mayor. I never spoke to him about these appointments. I don’t think my colleague here, Trustee Donnelly, did either. That would be totally inappropriate.”
The tension grew stronger as Trustee John DeMaro challenged Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh’s appointed positions; the issue that sparked major debate at the organizational meeting regarding Brudie appointing him to four chairperson assignments. When asked by DeMaro if he thought it was appropriate and not overwhelming, Cavanaugh refused to speak much further on the issue, stating that he had no opinion on the matter and was simply given the four positions as chairperson.
Residents attending the meeting were appalled by the decorum of the board, in particular Donnelly’s comment towards Brudie. Many expressed their embarrassment over the way in which the trustees and mayor interacted in a completely unprofessional manner, specificaly citing the personal attacks made on one another in a public board meeting. Commenters all agreed that the mayor and trustees needed to act as the elected public officials that they are, representing the village of Garden City.
Did you attend the meeting? What did you think of the comments made by the board members and mayor's appointments. Tell us in the comments section below.