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Feuding stalls some critical issues

Vecchia hopeful for turnaround

September 26, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — At separate meetings on different floors of Town Hall, a quorum of Town Council and its Protection of Persons and Property subcommittee unanimously approved hiring a police officer and two call firefighters and making a minor parking change on Dresser Street. The council also approved banning parking on all town bridges, but the subcommittee postponed it for more information.

Despite the feuding that caused the two meetings to happen, Vice Chairman Al Vecchia was optimistic.

"I think you're going to see everything calm down. You'll see everything turn around," he said afterward.

Town Manager Christopher Clark certainly hopes so. He said the time he's had to put into the squabbles has delayed two crucial efforts — financial research for the school building project and reforming how the town handles health insurance.

"Sometimes elected officials have their issues, and hopefully they can work things out," he said. "It's ultimately a council matter."

The scheduling conflict grew out of a political clash among councilors partly over whether the upstairs meeting was valid, with some on both sides claiming the other is trying to make a "power play." Five councilors went upstairs for the short televised special council meeting — Vecchia, Cathy Nikolla, Denise Clemence, David Livengood and Pamela Regis. The remainder — Chairman Steven Lazo, Conrad Vandal, Richard Logan and Larry McDonald — were downstairs for the longer PPP session, with all but McDonald being voting members.

To Lazo, the upstairs meeting was "illegal." He claimed the letter seeking it was "defective" because it was not time-stamped as "received" by any town official and misidentifies the charter section under which councilor's can get special meetings (mentioning section 2-6-1 rather than 2-5-1).

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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