#&@%! were not deleted; Heated exchanges at panel meetings.


Byline: Craig S. Semon

STURBRIDGE - "Shut your (expletive) mouth." "You are such a piece of (expletive)" "You are dirty. ... You're a whore."

No, these are not lines taken from an episode of "The Sopranos," but heated verbal exchanges during two separate meetings of the Town Administrator Search Committee.

And now committee members Carol A. Childress and Linda N. Cocalis are taking fellow member Selectman Scott A. Garieri to task. The two women waited until the executive meeting minutes were released last week because they said they didn't want to affect the process.

In executive session Jan. 6, there was a difference of opinion about how to re-evaluate the 65 applicants for the town administrator position. This sparked Ms. Childress to say to Mr. Garieri that if he didn't have the time to commit to the committee, maybe he should resign. According to Ms. Childress and Ms. Cocalis, Mr. Garieri shouted back, "Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion."

"I was shocked. He was physically angry. He was red-faced. His eyes were bulging," Ms. Childress recalled. "It was shocking and I think we were all shocked by it. And I didn't have a response."

"That's somebody saying, you don't matter. You don't exist and your opinion doesn't mean anything to anyone else," Ms. Cocalis added. "That's wrong, because everybody's opinion should count and everyone should have an opportunity to speak without feeling intimidated or insulted."

Mr. Garieri said in a telephone interview last week that he probably did say, "Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion," but he added that his words were taken out of context and that Ms. Childress was "mouthing off" about something else that had nothing to do with what the committee was talking about.

From that point on, Ms. Childress said she was going to the search committee meeting with trepidation about what was going to happen next.

During open session Feb. 2, Mr. Garieri chastised Ms. Childress for deviating from the approved questions during the second round of town administrator candidates' interviews.

"The chairman, James Ehrhard, stated at the beginning of the interview process, that he wanted there to be flexibility," Ms. Childress said. "So we all felt pretty much at ease asking our approved questions and our unapproved questions, whatever they may be."

Furthermore, at the Jan. 6 meeting, Mr. Garieri said it was "embarrassing" and "unprofessional" that Ms. Cocalis would ask...

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