By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 7/1, the Fairhaven Board of Public Works argued about miscommunication between Chairperson Brian Wotton and board member Frank Coelho and Mr. Coelho’s feelings regarding how the meetings are run. The board also discussed the next steps with Cooke Park.
The board met with Christopher Amaral regarding an open position as a Special Motor Equipment Operator.
Before Mr. Amaral began, board member Frank Coelho interrupted and asked BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton if his topic on the agenda could be brought up next because he said it was supposed to be discussed at the beginning of the meeting.
Mr. Coelho explained that there were people there to discuss his topic who had been waiting an hour and a half.
Mr. Wotton explained that the line item “Possible Topics of Discussion” has no scheduled time during the meeting and would be discussed during their “Old/New Business” at the end of the meeting. Mr. Wotton said appointments are scheduled and always come first.
Mr. Amaral then interviewed for the SMEO position stating that he was taking the test for his licenses on 7/31.
Mr. Hobson suggested they do not hire him until he has his license.
Mr. Furtado said that no one else applied for the job, and suggested they hire Mr. Amaral, but continue to pay him as a truck driver and give him time to pass his test.
Mr. Hobson made a motion to wait to hire Mr. Amaral until he gets his license. The motion passed unanimously.
In another matter the board met with Jerry Johnson about a driveway waiver on Fort Street.
Mr. Wotton explained that he must recuse himself from voting because he will potentially be constructing their driveway.
Mr. Johnson explained that they will need to do a curb cut to construct their 18 foot driveway. Mr. Johnson said that the driveway will not start on Fort Street, but come in from Reynolds Street because they felt that Fort Street is too congested.
Mr. Wotton explained that they will be digging up the old driveway on Fort Street and put grass there, and they will also be putting an addition and a garage on the property.
“Mr. Chairman, you recused yourself, so I don’t think you should speak on the matter,” interjected Mr. Coelho
Mr. Wotton explained to Mr. Coelho that he recused himself from voting and has a right to speak on the matter because he is Mr. Johnson’s contractor.
The board voted to grant the waiver.
Before moving onto the next topic Mr. Wotton stated: “Mr. Coelho just so you’re aware the contractor in the room is allowed to speak.”
“I don’t think so,” Mr. Coelho said.
“So when Mr. Medeiros was here speaking about a permit he couldn’t talk about it with his customer,” Mr. Wotton questioned.
“He can talk about it, but….” Mr. Coelho said.
Mr. Wotton interrupted saying “Speak when you’re spoken to and understand how the rules work.”
“You ain’t going to be out-talking me every time I come here,” Mr. Coelho said raising his voice. “You’ve been putting me through the ringer and that’s going to stop.”
Mr. Wotton explained that the board put a whole section on the agenda for Mr. Coelho to discuss what he wanted.
“All right let’s get back to business,” said board member Robert “Hoppy’ Hobson.
Mr. Wotton began stating their next item on the agenda.
Mr. Coelho interrupted and explained that he just asked for his topic to be discussed next because people that attended the meeting had been waiting to speak on it. He said that the topic was supposed to be the fourth item on the agenda and that Mr. Wotton had moved it further and further down on the agenda.
Mr. Wotton explained that he did not move anything around.
“What right do you think you have,” Mr. Coelho said. “You’re just the Chairperson, you have no more votes than anyone.”
Mr. Coelho explained that he is going to contact the attorney general and tell the Ethics Commission that Mr. Wotton is running the meetings illegally.
“How can you move me down and put aside the stuff that I brought up,” Mr. Coelho asked.
“Mr. Coelho would you like to run the table and tell me what would be next on the agenda that would please you sir and I will go to that,” Mr. Wotton said.
“I would like you to let the people talk about the stuff that I put on the agenda,” Mr. Coelho said. “Three weeks ago I put this on the agenda and I’m still trying to get it on the agenda.”
Mr. Coelho explained that he wanted to discuss the line item “Possible Topics of Discussion.” Mr. Coelho said on the agenda it was supposed to be discussed at 6 p.m. and it has been an hour and half since then.
Mr. Wotton explained that the line item has no scheduled time of discussion.
“Here’s what we need to do moving forward,” Mr. Furtado interjected.
“You’re not going to shut me off, I’ll tell you that,” Mr. Coelho said loudly.
“Who is shutting you off,” Mr. Wotton yelled back.
“Well you’re not letting me speak,” Mr. Coelho said.
Mr. Wotton explained that he thought it was a big misunderstanding, and that he is not the one who writes the agenda.
Mr. Coelho asked why he is the only one that has to get permission to get a topic on the agenda.
Mr. Wotton said that he does not know why and that he does not come up with the topics or items on the agenda or when they are scheduled to be discussed.
Mr. Furtado explained that all the confusion and misunderstanding is due to the new line item “Possible Topics of Discussion.”
Mr. Furtado explained that the Chairperson has the right to deny topics to be put on the agenda, so those topics that are denied by the Chairperson can be put on the agenda as “Possible Topics of Discussion” and at meetings the board can vote to discuss those items.
“He said he didn’t deny them,” Mr. Coelho said referring to Mr. Wotton.
Mr. Wotton explained that he did not deny Mr. Coelho’s items. Mr. Wotton said he suggested the items could fall under the old/new business line item, but Mr. Coelho said no to that. Mr. Wotton also explained that Mr. Furtado said that all three of Mr. Coelho’s topics for discussion were already all set.
“They’re not all set,” Mr. Coelho said.
Mr. Furtado said they are all in the works.
“I make a motion we move on,” Mr. Hobson said.
Mr. Coelho asked Mr. Furtado if he had talked to the Conservation Committee about Hoppy’s Landing.
Mr. Furtado said he had reached out to them but had not heard back yet.
Mr. Coelho said it had been three weeks and he would go to ConCom if there is a problem.
Next, Mr. Coelho asked if they could add another trash barrel right on the Causeway.
Mr. Furtado said that another barrel could be added.
Mr. Coelho then asked if the recycling center hours could be extended.
Mr. Furtado explained that they just extended the hours until 2 p.m.
Mr. Coelho asked if the hours could be extended until 4 p.m.
A few residents at the meeting also agreed that an extended time would be beneficial to the public.
The board made a motion to keep the recycling center open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. for the time being. The motion passed unanimously.
“Mr. Chairman thank you for allowing me and the people to speak and for moving me up on the agenda,” Mr. Coelho said.
Mr. Wotton explained that he hopes Mr. Coelho understands that no one is trying to keep him from speaking.
Mr. Furtado suggested that the “Possible Topics of Discussion” line item be moved further down the agenda from now on.
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