By Josh LaBella
While the agenda was fairly straight forward for Monday night’s City Council meeting, public session saw mudslinging and party infighting weeks ahead of the primary election.
In the beginning of public session, citizens took to the podium to share concerns and recommendations apropos better security and surveillance at West Haven beaches and the prospect of charging out-of-towners for parking passes.
After residents spoke, some politicians used public session as a way to decry their political opponents. Eighth District Councilwoman Tracy Morrissey hailed back to previous worries she had regarding Mayor Nancy Rossi and whether or not she took an insurance buyout.
“The mayor has publicly said several times that she did not take it,” said Morrissey. “Well if she didn’t take it, did you take a waiver? Because I will publicly apologize if you did not take the cash for the health insurance. I can’t get that information. I’ve tried.”
Morrissey said her Freedom of Information Act requests about the matter have gone unanswered. She also said, based on the campaign finance documents the Rossi campaign had filed, the mayor looks to have taken cash donations over the legal limit. She said she filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Rossi, who is running for her second term and facing two primary opponents, interjected, saying that campaign finance complaints are confidential. Chairman Ron Quagliani called a recess in order to discuss situation’s legality with corporation council. Morrissey tabled the issue pending clarification.
Rick Fontana, chairman of the Ethics Commission and former mayoral campaign manager for Debbie Collins, took the stand next. He said First District Councilwoman Bridgette Hoskie has contacted his employers, including New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, to say he was misrepresenting them because he came, in uniform, to speak in public session at a previous meeting. Fontana works for emergency medical services in New Haven.
“I was between work and home on a night that I was off duty,” said Fontana. “For her to send a letter saying that I disrespected the City of New Haven and that I disrespected the City of West Haven is troubling.”
Fontana said City Council meeting public sessions are a forum where citizens can come to state their opinions, whether people agree with them or not. He told Hoskie she should be ashamed of herself and called the action “uncalled for.”
Hoskie later addressed the council about Fontana’s claims. She said Fontana coming to address the council in his uniform was unprofessional and she felt his employers needed to know.
“Shame on me?” said Hoskie. “No. Shame on him. I will do what I deem is right for my city, for my constituents and for the people I represent. I stand in the light. I don’t stand behind closed doors.”
There were also many speakers who addressed an ongoing standoff between the Child Development Center and the Rossi administration regarding the organizations’ lease agreement with the city (A story on that will be in next week’s issue).
Margaret Krzeminski, an Allingtown resident, told the council it had been a mean-spirited body from the beginning. She said the council does not care about the people of the city and that they “walk right over us.” She added she believed the council uses citizens to aid their own efforts.
“This city is broken,” said Krzeminski. “You want to take care of the citizens? You can’t even take care of yourselves.”