“Try to forget politics. Base your decisions on what you think is right.”
That was longtime City Councilor Anthony D. Tomassetti, offering a bit of sound advice at the end of a long career to those who will henceforth be running Meriden. But will that advice be followed?
As it looks right now, fat chance!
As far as we know, nobody said “Take that!” at Monday night’s City Council meeting and nobody said “So there!” But they might as well have. Careers were beginning and careers were ending. For the first time in a long, long time, the Republicans and We the People are in a position of real power up at City Hall, but it’s not clear that they or the Democrats are in any mood to extend the benefit of the doubt – let alone the hand of friendship – across the aisle.
Tradition had already been abandoned earlier in the day, with Manny Santos, Meriden’s new mayor, choosing to be sworn in that morning – either because “it was the right thing to do,” as he said, or because “the city yearns for change,” as he also said, or because he wanted to reverse the traditional order of the meeting to prevent the old mayor, Michael S. Rohde, from making a bunch of last-minute appointments.
In the end, Rohde made his appointments. As for Santos, he said he’s “75 percent sure” he’ll try to get them overturned by a judge.
As for Corporation Counsel Michael Quinn, first he was in, then he was out, then he was in again. Will Santos try to get him out again? Stay tuned.
The outgoing mayor, Rohde, being no longer in office, couldn’t convene the meeting Monday night, so that task was left to Deputy Mayor Matthew C. Dominello Sr., who now takes over as majority leader.
Awkward? You bet. And then the new mayor even tried to adjourn the meeting with a motion and a second, but no vote – an embarrassing moment that was not missed by his opponents.
There was plenty of partisan talk Monday night, and a certain amount of hyperbole (Santos as Superman? Maybe not – but neither should he be raked over the coals for making a procedural error at his first City Council meeting.)
The only parts of politics that almost everyone seemed to forget were the part where you thank longtime public servants like Tomassetti and Rohde for their service (it happened, yes, but they almost got lost in the shuffle) and the part where everyone vows to do “what is best for the city of Meriden.”
Those words did get said (by Republican Councilor Kevin Scarpati) but is that what’s really going to happen over the next two years, with all that’s at stake for this city and its residents?
That remains to be seen. What’s clear so far is that the new administration is off to a very bumpy start.