Last evening, City Councilors Jonathan Weydt and Richard Conti held a meeting to inform Ward 4 residents about the situation at the Attleboro Landfill. It was an informational meeting that was requested by the people who live in the area and will be affected in many ways—truck traffic on tiny roads, health risks and property devaluation. The purpose was to educate and listen. Two city councilors cared enough about their constituency to do what they were elected to do. Thank you to both of them.
Somehow, several city officials found this to be so offensive that they stormed out. City Council President Frank Cook was one of them. Mr. Cook was “offended” by the a word used by Councilor Weydt.
Newsflash: This meeting was not about Mr. Cook or for Mr. Cook or by Mr. Cook. This was for the residents of Ward 4. This ridiculous attempt by Mr. Cook to make the headlines focus on the “bad behavior” of Mr. Weydt instead of its stated goal was childish, manipulative and in itself offensive.
Let’s talk about the behavior of Mr. Cook regarding this issue. First, let me say to the residents of Ward 3 (which Mr. Cook represents) that if it wasn’t for Councilors Conti and Weydt and a group of people working behind the scenes, you would have trucks rolling over Holden Street as you read this. You have had zero representation from your ward representative.
Mr. Cook’s “wordsmithing” of Councilor Walter Thibodeau’s petition at the last possible moment was nice, but would have never happened if Mr. Weydt and Mr. Conti had not been pushing this issue. The reason that we held a meeting last night was because Mr. Cook refused to hold public council discussions and denied a request by Mr. Weydt to hold a public meeting to educate the public on this issue. Mr. Cook can try to hide behind “council procedures,” but he manages to do step out of those boundaries whenever it suits him.
The night before our Ward 4 meeting, Mr. Cook read some letter to the administration that misled people into thinking that the “EndCap deal” was null and void. It is NOT. Mr. Cook also announced to the public that the Massachusetts DEP could be coming into Attleboro—ordering us into compliance and affording us no input. False! The only person who seems determined to see that Attleboro residents have no input is Mr. Cook. Watch the city council meetings.
Mr. Cook can feign offense all he wants, but the real issue is that he was not in control, and I am certainly thankful for that. He had a responsibility to sit through that meeting and listen to the concerns of his constituents, as there were Ward 3 residents at that meeting. His stunt and remarks to The Sun Chronicle about feeling offended were orchestrated solely to deflect from the good works of Councilors Conti and Weydt. What he pulled was the ONLY offensive happening of the night. He failed as a ward councilor and as a leader of our city.
This is ot the first time that Mr. Cook has offended a large group of people trying to exercise their right to speak out. Remember the Farmers Market and the 25-minute lecture from Mr. Cook about how awful their behavior was? That offended him as well. It would seem that anyone speaking up offends Mr. Cook.
It is my hope that Mr. Cook’s childish and offensive behavior is not what will be remembered of our meeting, probably the first of its kind—and I hope there are more of them. My other hope is that more people will watch the council meetings on Tuesday nights. Be vigilant, as we now know that our city officials are not shy about making decisions that have a huge impact on us—and keeping it quiet.
In closing, I would say this to Mr. Cook, as he found my (our Ward 4) meeting so offensive. I found your behavior just plain awful. I am outraged that you would try to “take away” and deflect from a meeting that was designed to defend the health and well-being of our citizens. You should learn to talk less and listen more. You may be the president of the city council, but you work for the people of this city, not the administration.
We the people had every right to attend that meeting and if you found it distasteful and are offended that easily, then maybe you should leave public office. I find it offensive that you have been silent on the fact that one million 200 thousand tons of contaminated material is slated to be dumped into Ward 4!
On another note, because of the behavior of our highest of city officials, I would like to put a group of honest, hardworking citizens together who care about transparent and clean government—”Operation Clean Government.” Please call me if you are interested.
Remember: Never underestimate what a small group of dedicated people can do.
Roxanne Houghton is a former Attleboro city councilor.