Replacing town manager splits Southington Town Council

Replacing town manager splits Southington Town Council

Record-Journal
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Southington Town Hall, Tuesday, August 1, 2017. | Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council took no action Monday on replacing the retiring town manager, but the issue was raised by councilors and residents.

Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio said the council will take up the matter again at its Sept. 11 meeting.

Town Manager Garry Brumback plans to retire early next year. Whether to appoint Mark Sciota, deputy town manager, or go through a search process has split the council, with Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the issue.

Chris Palmieri, a Democrat, said a vote on Sciota’s appointment would have been taken Monday if one of the five councilors in favor of the action hadn’t “found it unacceptable” to take action without the full council present.

He wouldn’t name the councilor.

Ed Pocock III, a Republican in favor of a search process, wasn’t present Monday.

Palmieri said he wouldn’t take part in any discussion about Brumback’s replacement “without due deliberation.”

Riccio’s leadership of the council has also been criticized by those who want a search process.

Monday’s meeting was rescheduled from last Monday. The move was criticized by three councilors.

Cheryl Lounsbury, a Republican who accused Riccio of bullying councilors who disagree with him, said the meeting was moved to ensure the chairman’s supporters were present. Those who disagree, she said, weren’t consulted about the change.

“It’s just common courtesy to ask all your council people,” Lounsbury said. “This really does seem to indicate backroom dealings with only people who have the same opinion.”

One resident, John Campbell, referenced an “illegal meeting” on the town manager’s replacement.

Riccio interrupted Campbell, saying he was casting aspersions on council members.

“I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I haven’t read a newspaper in Southington in weeks,” Riccio said. “There was no illegal meeting.”

John Moise, a finance board Democrat, filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission over a meeting of councilors including Riccio, alleging it included a Democratic councilor by phone to discuss replacement of the outgoing town manager. Republican and the Democrat in question, Dawn Miceli, said the call took place after a caucus meeting the morning of Aug. 1.

Lounsbury told Campbell that the FOI Commission hasn’t ruled on the issue yet.

“You bypassed the citizens of Southington,” Campbell said.

Another speaker urged the council to vote that night on Sciota’s appointment.

“I wish he’d got the job 11 years ago,” said Joe Landrie, referencing the hiring process undertaken for Brumback when Sciota was a finalist. “Take some action, do it.”

jbuchanan@recordjournal.com 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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