Alba purchases seat cushions to ease citizens' 'hot, cross buns' at long Town Council meetings

Alba purchases seat cushions to ease citizens' 'hot, cross buns' at long Town Council meetings

SMITHFIELD - Already paying out-of-pocket to provide the public with coffee and pastry before Town Council meetings, Councilwoman Suzanna Alba has now turned her attention to a different variety of buns.

In response to a general feeling that the seat of government here tortures the backsides of the citizenry, Alba has used $150 of her council salary to buy 20 padded cushions for the rock-hard wooden chairs in the council chamber.

She noted that the five council members have soft, padded chairs, and "That's not fair. Government participation should be warm, welcoming, and comfortable."

She said residents with business before the council can be trapped in the unyielding chairs for several hours, something she noticed when she attended meetings as a citizen prior to her election in 2012.

"I didn't even think I could get through an entire meeting," she said. Last year, Rose Marie Cipriano, chairwoman of the town's Financial Review Commission who often attends council meetings, said the gallery chairs are so uncomfortable that she brings her own cushion.

Alba, who foots the bill for pre-meeting refreshments as well, said she donates her entire $4,000 council stipend to charity as part of a campaign promise.

She said she'll discuss with Town Manager Dennis Finlay where the removable cushions will be stored between meetings and how they'll be distributed, and that they should be available by the council's May 20 meeting.