The Meriden city council is not short on bad behavior–including comments that skirt the border of sexual harassment, multiple censures against councilors, and an effort to delete council meeting footage by this week’s guest, Miguel Castro.
Q: On December 18 of last year, the council was discussing whether to fire your city manager. People brought up his performance and the performance of other city employees. But Councilor Bob Williams, Jr. said:
We have some department heads that you gotta handle with kid gloves. Some people you can have an honest conversation….There’s some people you can’t. You gotta basically pat ’em on the ass a little bit.
I realize Councilor Williams was probably just using some locker room talk, which is completely acceptable in the year 2018. Unless, of course, you’re a female comedian. How did you feel?
A: For anyone to go on the council floor and make a statement like this is really unfortunate. It’s a complete insult. It is unnecessary. It’s uncalled for. The department heads deserve a public apology. People are referring to this as “locker room talk.” Nonsense. I’ve been in many locker rooms and my friends in the locker room do not talk like that.
Q: Here at the City Council Chronicles studio, no one is allowed to talk in our locker room. And it really starts the day off on the right note for me. The next month, there was a resolution to censure Councilor Williams. The mayor ruled you could not vote on the resolution. So who then polices your council, Miguel?
A: It certainly deserves serious discussion and conversations that talk like this should not be allowed anywhere. It should be subject to a much further discussion which should start within our city leaders.
Q: Coincidentally at that same meeting, there was a censure against you that called you out for political retaliation against your former election opponent. And the mayor again ruled you cannot vote on it. You just said these issues should be discussed openly, so were you disappointed that the mayor denied a vote on both of these resolutions?
A: Well, I appreciate your thoughts but the comparison–it’s not a fair comparison. With regards to the manner you have brought now to our discussion, [it] was something that was referred to a confidential process.
Q: On March 29, there was a finance committee meeting. Apparently there were some councilors having a side conversation near you because the chair told them to be quiet. After that meeting, you contacted the video recording company for the city and asked if that exchange could be deleted from the footage. Did you at all think that a mere inquiry about deleting footage would be construed as a request to delete footage and therefore be records tampering?
A: Well, I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. My approach was posing a question whether that portion of the meeting could have been edited. That was the end of it. I did not wake up one morning to purposely commit something nefarious. If for some reason, for lack of information, I have brought a small level of disruption that could create that kind of perception, I personally apologize. I am sorry for how I approached it. Could I have known there was a right way or a different way to address my concern, I would have relied on that.
Editor’s note: After publication, Councilor Castro sent multiple messages to City Council Chronicles asking for this interview to be deleted. It is not the policy of City Council Chronicles to acquiesce to the pressure of elected officials seeking to set the terms of their own coverage. Councilor Castro was given the opportunity to request correction of any factual errors he found in the interview. He provided none.