Who Is The Bully Mr. Mayor?
I am sitting here reading the last few days of articles and comments from the Middletown Press and the Middletown Eye regarding the Council and Police Chief. I am amazed at the comments of the Mayor claiming that the Council people are a bunch of bullies. Either he doesn’t know what the word means or his hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Let’s talk about what a bully really is. My wife is an employee of the Middletown Board of Education and has been since May 2010. On September 17, 2010 she received a letter from Debra Milardo, Personnel Director for the City of Middletown. The letter was sent at the direction of the Mayor. Ms. Milardo informed my wife that her employment was not recognized by the City and she would not be paid for any further work that she performs. While the strident tone of the letter was not appreciated, I understand that this matter is in Court, where it should be decided and hopefully will be soon. Either the Mayor is right or the Board of Education will prevail and everyone can move on.
The last part of the letter, however, was something different. Ms. Milardo, at the direction of the Mayor, informed my wife that “Should you appear for the purposes of employment, on City of Middletown property which includes Board of Education locations after this date, the City retains the right to notify the Middletown Police Department on charges of trespassing. It is our sincere hope that this action does not have to be taken.”
This, Mr. Mayor, is bullying. When a public official uses their official position to threaten, bully and intimidate a citizen with preposterous claims of possible arrest that is more than bullying it is an abuse of authority. Neither the Mayor nor Ms. Milardo could possibly have legitimately had my wife arrested for trespass. Her place of employment was private property on Main Street leased by the Board of Education. At all times she was or would be on the premises it was with the authority of the Board. It is disturbing that the Mayor and Ms. Milardo did not know where my wife worked or whether the City actually had any authority over the property, but the facts don’t matter to a bully. If you get what you want by threats, intimidation, and yes, bullying, then nothing else matters. It is also my understanding that the same or similar letter was mailed to other employees.
In my email to the Council and the Board of Education and at the meeting on Tuesday I brought this issue to the attention of the City Council. I had concerns about the independence of the acting Chief and his ability to stand up to the Mayor. Despite the articles and comments in the Press and Eye that all twenty citizens that spoke at the meeting supported the acting Chief, I did not. Having followed the issues with the Board of Education and the Mayor and the involvement of the Police I suggested that the Chief be questioned about the seizure of the Board of Education building, the arrest of the football coaches and find out what he would do if the Mayor or Ms. Milardo filed a complaint to have my wife arrested for trespass. I was interested in knowing what if any influence the Mayor exerted in these matters and in particular how high up in the chain of command was the decision made to arrest the football coaches. That case was dismissed in court but if they could arrest the football coaches they could certainly arrest my wife.
While I would have liked answers to these questions I am an attorney and as such notified Ms. Milardo and the Mayor that their actions may lead to litigation. The Council, therefore, chose not to ask questions regarding these matters with the exception of Councilman Daley. This does not mean that this was not a significant issue. In fact the acting Chief’s repeated reference to the Mayor as his boss, his need to consult the Mayor on most issues and other comments did nothing to change my concerns about his independence.
The decision regarding the Police Chief involved the Mayor, the Personnel Director, The Council and the Police Chief. They are all big boys and girls who have chosen to be involved in the political process. All of these people have tremendous power and influence over the lives of citizens of Middletown. The Mayor wasn’t bullied by the Council; his candidate for chief did not receive the required votes. Stop whining and move on.
Before I am accused of being a spokesperson for the Democrats on the Council and part of their “lockstep thinking”, I am a registered Democrat that generally votes Republican and in fact I voted for this Mayor. I will not make that mistake again.