Hearing on Bianchi Complaint Adjourns After Disruption
|Craig Gaetani interrupts Tuesday's meeting of the Human Rights Commission, which is looking into the accusations against Mayor Daniel Bianchi by Doreen Wade, right.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Human Rights Commission abruptly closed its meeting Tuesday in an ongoing inquiry after a city resident stormed the podium and refused to recognize meeting rules of order.
The commission was in the midst of a continued investigation into a complaint lodged by Medford resident Doreen Wade against Mayor Daniel Bianchi, when Craig Gaetani approached the podium suddenly to address them.
"I am a party to this ongoing investigation," Gaetani told the commission. "Because Mayor Bianchi has bullied me also."
Gaetani has been vocal at City Hall and with local media this year regarding a grievance with local government's disinclination to implement his water treatment ideas, which he compared to Wade's experience with the commission.
"You people are a disgrace," said Gaetani. "You hung her out to dry in public and every one of you will pay for it."
Despite several attempts by Chairman Joshua Cutler to regain order, Gaetani continued to challenge the committee and would not acknowledge requests to stop speaking, raising his voice to yell over him. He eventually took his seat, but continued to call out spontaneously from the audience.
"The public is tired of this mumbo jumbo, and laws and bylaws," said Gaetani. "They need to be able to have people come forward and state what they have to say."
Prior to the outburst, the commission was again at a standstill as to how to proceed with the investigation at hand, which has now been denounced by the complainant, who last month revealed she had also filed complaints on this matter at the state and federal level.
The Human Rights Commission was appointed by Bianchi and confirmed by the City Council earlier this year to investigate complaints such as those leveled by Wade, whose accusations of racism and mistreatment by Bianchi have formed the sole subject of the commission's first three meetings. In several hours of testimony thus far, Wade alleges that discriminatory attitudes by Bianchi and the city of Pittsfield have prevented her from relocating her business to the area, and that Bianchi committed assault against her by standing over her in an aggressive manner, an accusation that was not supported by later witness testimony.
On Tuesday, Wade accused the commission of malfeasance in the public manner in which the investigation has been handled, and demanded it "remove itself" from the investigation.
"Personal and private information concerning me has been disclosed to the public," said Wade. "This is a violation of my civil rights."
Wade cited "a lack of procedures," following the adoption of a set of internal committee rules by that body earlier in the meeting. Wade said the commission had thus far been "acting without rules, bylaws or guidance" in investigating her complaint.
The Medford resident charged that discussion that had gone on about the investigation between members of the commission and the city solicitor were improper and a violation of her right to privacy. Additionally, she took issue with the fact that NAACP President Will Singleton, whose account of a meeting with Wade and Bianchi differed in details from her own, had been questioned during an open meeting, leading to "information being exposed incorrectly to the public."
"You should be careful that you do your investigation publicly and not privately," Wade told the commission. "So that information that is found later on to be false does not get into the newspaper, to the radio stations, or to anyone else and have that person's reputation destroyed based on false information and improper investigation.
"The lack of respect to me has been atrocious," she continued. "The information that has been put out in the media on me, is atrocious."
"Originally, your request was to speak before the City Council. That's also a public meeting," said Cutler. "So, either way, it would have happened the same way."
Committee member Pamela Malumphy suggested the commission request someone from the attorney general's office attend the next meeting to offer clarification on Wade's opinion that the commission had acted incorrectly.
"That should have been done in April 2014 when you established your Human Rights Commission," said Wade. "Not after you start the procedure of an investigation and do it wrong for the person who is being investigated."
"What's the function of the Human Rights Commission?" shouted Guitani from his seat, at which Malumphy made a motion to adjourn, which was seconded and approved unanimously.
Tags: bullying, discrimination, human rights,