Final Scituate council meeting leads to confrontation

Final Scituate council meeting leads to confrontation

SCITUATE – A half-dozen Scituate residents followed outgoing Town Council President John Mahoney out of the Scituate Senior Center Monday morning, loudly chastising him for holding a Monday morning meeting on his last day before leaving office and for his recent actions at meetings.

Mahoney and the residents argued outside of the Scituate Senior Center, 1315 Chopmist Hill Road, at around 8:45 a.m., moments after the 8:15 a.m. meeting ended. Each side yelled insults and expletives toward one another in the parking lot before driving off in their vehicles.

Last Friday, Jan. 4, with only days remaining before the Jan. 8 inauguration of new council members, the self-described Independent Men of the council announced a last-minute special meeting with a handful of agenda items for Monday, Jan. 7.

Included on the agenda was the appointment of Robert Bower, chairman of the Land Trust and Conservation Commission. Bower will fill out the fourth mandatory joint position. According to Bower, he and the council disagreed over the number of appointments the council could make, as well as the term limits for many of the seats.

“The shenanigans must stop,” Bower said.

Additionally, Bower said the council did not confer with commission members on appointment recommendations, a practice done until recently. He said appointments need to be fair, accurate, and get public review.

Bower said the list of recommendations was good, and all appointments made by the council were suitable.

“It’s not about the people. It’s about following town laws,” Bower said.

Following the Dec. 18 Town Council meeting, Mahoney allegedly shoved Bower after a disagreement regarding commission appointments and the commission’s frozen accounts.

“I do feel he was out of line. He lit into me,” Bower said.

The council elected five of the seven members to the Land Trust in the past two years, Bower said. The trust and commission have staggered terms to prevent more than two appointments in a single year.

Scituate Police Chief Donald Delaere said he witnessed the altercation between Bower and Mahoney, and advised both parties to contact the Rhode Island State Police should they desire to file a police report.

Delaere said Mahoney was technically his direct supervisor, and he could not get involved in the situation so as to remain unbiased.

“We separated the parties and referred them to the State Police, but neither filed a report,” Delaere said.

Mahoney did not respond to a request for comment.

Bower said trust and commission members agreed to work out the term-ending dates among themselves to get the appointments back in order.

“I think we’ll get things back in sync with a council that is willing to communicate,” Bower said.

Bower said he hopes the new council will release the boards’ frozen funds, a move made and approved by the Independent Men last September following criticism. The trust and commission filed an Open Meetings Act violation against the move, which was left off the September council agenda.

Republican Councilor Charles Collins opposed the decision to appoint Bower to the commission, and said Monday he still felt the council was not in the right to continue to appoint members as a “lame duck” council.

“I don’t think you have the right to make it,” Collins said.

In other business, the council approved 4-3, along party lines, to pay A & A Welding $26,793 for custom cell blocks at the police station. According to Mahoney, the blocks are already installed.

With independent council member Nick Izzi recusing himself on votes regarding Tower Hill Electric, two motions to pay the vendor for work done at the police station failed 3-3. Collins said he felt the process of hiring Tower Hill was not transparent, as jobs over $10,000 must be put out to bid by state law. Each bill was just under $10,000.

“I think he circumvented the bidding law to do what he did,” Collins said.

The council unanimously approved paying P & R Construction $6,400 for the foundation and footings for the Scituate Animal Shelter.

The first meeting of the newly elected Republican Town Council will be Jan. 10 at the Scituate High School Auditorium, 94 Trimtown Road, starting at 7 p.m.