Three councilors voiced their displeasure with the appointments process to the Ordinance Charter Review Committee, voting against the appointments made by Council President Jeffrey Turco to the nine-member committee.
Councillors James Letterie and Jeanne Maggio voted “no” when the name of each appointee was announced during eight separate roll call votes. Councillor Nicholas DelVento voted “present” each time, which technically is not a vote against the appointees, but DelVento publicly asked Turco to reconsider his appointments prior to the roll call votes.
What was particularly stunning about the ‘no’ votes was that three of Turco’s appointments are current town councilors, Linda Calla, J. Larry Powers, and Paul Varrone, while another appointment to the committee, Town Clerk Carla Vitale, was in her customary seat at the council table at the meeting.
In fact, Maggio was seated between Calla and Vitale at the council table when she cast her dissenting votes. That scenario is likely unprecedented in the annals of Winthrop government.
The other appointments to the committee, Marie Turner, Joseph Ferrino, Charles Famolare, and Michael Power, were also appointed by a 5-2-1 vote. (Councillors Jeffrey Turco, Linda Calla, Paul Varrone, Russell Sanford, and Philip Boncore voted in the affirmative for all eight appointments, while Councilor-at-Large J. Larry Powers was absent from the meeting).
The vote on the ninth appointment, Charter Review Committee Chairman Joseph Boncore, was postponed until a special meeting. Boncore’s father, Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore, had indicated he would abstain from the voting for his son’s appointment, meaning it was likely that Joseph Boncore would receive only four votes, leaving him one shy of the five votes needed for appointment to the committee.
Letterie was first to speak out against the appointments. “I strongly believe that this committee, as proposed, doesn’t represent all the segments of the town,” said Letterie. “One of the most important aspects of the Charter was to have a link between the town and the schools and I don’t see any representation from the school side – or the Chamber of Commerce or business. I would like to see a more representative committee to review the Charter.”
Maggio also stated her opposition to the makeup of the committee.
“I don’t feel there is a well-rounded, diverse group that is represented in this list of appointments,” said Maggio. “There are some very qualified people, but not diverse enough.”
DelVento felt that the process for the appointments was circumvented.
“The [the appointees] never submitted applications,” said DelVento. “We got this list when we walked in prior to our last meeting, so there was really not an opportunity to give our input.”
DelVento made it clear that all the proposed appointees were well qualified for the committee.
“Every one of these people is competent, qualified, loyal, and can serve the town,” said DelVento. “I just would like to have a better representation of people in the town. I’m going to vote ‘present’ and I really wish, Mr. President, that you would reconsider the structure of this committee.”
Maggio made a final plea to the council president “to listen to the people and to take a step back and maybe even rethink this and look at the diversity of the people that you have chosen and what the representation means to the community.”
But undeterred by Maggio’s appeal, Turco pressed forward with the eight roll call votes for the appointments, all of whom were approved by a 5-2-1 margin.