BERLIN â€“ Town Manager Jack Healy was questioned at a recent council meeting about why he didnâ€™t bring news of a police commissioner being recorded as saying racist remarks to the Town Councilâ€™s attention immediately, after being notified of it â€śa while ago.â€ť
The question came from Democratic Town Councilor JoAnn Angelico-Stetson during the portion of the meeting in which councilors are allowed to speak freely about whichever topic they desire.
â€śI was not presented with a tape,â€ť said Healy. â€śWhen I was told about the tape, in the way it was worded to me, I contacted the police about one minute after I was told about it.â€ť
Healy initially refused to answer the question saying he canâ€™t comment because of the investigation into it, but then spoke with corporation counsel attorney Jeff Donofrio outside of Town Council chambers during a less than one-minute recess.
Stetson followed up asking, â€śYou didnâ€™t think maybe the council should be apprised of it, because this is a commissioner?â€ť
Donofrio then said Healy contacted him once being told about the recording, and that he didnâ€™t know if there was a tape and there was no mention of a name of the commission, so referring the matter to police was justified and was his recommendation.
He also said the matter couldnâ€™t be discussed in executive session with the council, because it didnâ€™t fall within the strict state statutes for so.
Stetson said the council should still be made aware of the matter, outside of public consumption, instead of being â€śblindsidedâ€ť with the news coming out through the local media.
Mayor Mark Kaczynski responded saying, â€śno.â€ť
If there is a law enforcement investigation the information thatâ€™s a part of it is not for public knowledge, regardless if someone goes outside the official channels to release information to the media, he added.
Although the remarks were published in a newspaper, Kaczynski said not all the facts about it were known, like if the recording was true or doctored. Kaczynski later told The Herald facts about the article detailing Petersâ€™ remarks were inaccurate but declined to share how so.
Kaczynski, a Republican, went on to say the comments on the recording, which has Peters saying he teaches how to shoot â€śf------ -------,â€ťwere horrible and reprehensible. But some of the comments made earlier in the night by residents were just as â€śdisgustingâ€ť by using this situation to make a political point, which many leaders in town, including those â€śmaybe in both parties,â€ť are doing.
â€śAnd weâ€™re not here for that. Iâ€™m not here for that,â€ť said Kaczynski.
Former Democratic Mayor Rachel Rochette spoke during the public comment portion earlier in the meeting saying the hate and bigoted speech Peters is recorded as saying needs to stop coming from members of the Berlin Republican Town Committee, of which Peters is a member. She said she wouldâ€™ve asked Kaczynski, who initially declined to comment because of unknowns with the recording, and the Republican leadership on the council to call for Petersâ€™ resignation had he not resigned Tuesday morning.
Kaczynski, who said he didnâ€™t comment last week because he didnâ€™t want to jump to conclusions with the situation given the sensitive content, added he hopes cooperation can really be made by those people asking for it earlier in the meeting.
He referenced a comment from a resident earlier in the meeting on Stetson needing to resign for her DUI arrest last year, and said no one from the Republican majority on the council called for her resignation. Stetson responded to that resident comment by saying she acknowledged her mistake and it wasnâ€™t coming from a place of malic.
Healy did not return a request for comment on when he was made aware of the tape.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.