CMS Building Committee Refers to RTM a Request to Replace A Member ASAP

On Tuesday the Central Middle School building committee, chaired by Tony Turner, had its weekly 8:00am meeting.

The goal of the Central Middle School project is to build a new school. On Feb 4,  2022,the building was deemed dangerous and unsafe by the the town building department. The district dispersed students to other schools while they made the building safe for reopening on Feb 22. The fix was not permanent, but rather to last a max of 5 years.

At Tuesday’s meeting two interesting motions passed.

The first was a motion made by Tony Turner – added to the agenda after a vote of 7 yes, 1 no (Nisha Arora) and 1 abstention (Jan Kniffen) – to task the communications subcommittee with drafting a letter to the editor to address what he said were inaccuracies and omissions in a letter to the editor penned by Michael Spilo, as an individual, published in Greenwich Time, Greenwich Sentinel and CT Examiner as well as released via social media.

Mr. Spilo is a non-voting member of the building committee. He is the chair of the RTM Public Works Committee and appointed himself to be the RTM Representative to the building  committee.

Mr. Spilo did not submit this particular letter to Greenwich Free Press.

This publication has however published more than a dozen letters by Mr. Spilo over recent years, and three recent letters on the topic of the size of a new Central Middle School alone.

SPILO: Right-Size CMS 
May 22, 2023

SPILO: Why Are Democrats Supersizing Schools?
May 7, 2023

SPILO: Stop the Super-Size Building
April 12, 2023

In any event, Mr. Spilo’s letter to the editor at issue started out by saying the school was being designed for over 900 students, which other committee members said was inaccurate.

Mr. Spilo wanted to propose a motion to amend Mr. Turner’s motion to include examples and supporting data for any information deemed inaccurate or omitted.

“Obviously this is improper, but that’s not new here,” Spilo said.

“I don’t see anything improper about it,” Turner said.

Mr. Spilo’s motion to amend, seconded by Nisha Arora, stipulated that, “any refutation be substantiated be specifics and supported by examples.”

Ms Arora, the BET representative to the building committee, asked for the specific inaccuracies and omissions.

“I found it to be a different perspective than we often hear on this committee. I think that’s okay,” Arora said. “It’s important for the public to understand there is more than one perspective on this committee.”

“I don’t want to get into a food fight with local press,” said Jan Kniffen, whose recent nomination to the committee to fill a vacancy had been controversial, but was approved in the RTM by a vote of 121 Yes, 78 No, 4 Abstain.

Joe Rossetti spoke against Spilo’s amendment, saying he had confidence in the communications committee’s ability to draft a response.

Mr. Spilo said whatever response to the editorial the group believed to be incorrect, opinions vary and, “the refutation needs to be factual, and provide specific examples.”

Mr. Turner said Mr. Spilo had referenced a study comparing schools to have been from the communications committee.

“That was not the case. That document came from the professionals,” Turner said.

Mr. Spilo interrupted to disagree.

Mr. Turner said there were written responses from three professionals to the Lehrer Cumming report.

“After an in-depth review of the detailed cost estimate and available design documents, Lehrer Cumming believes that all major items are included in the estimate, and the scope was reasonably priced.” – Lehrer Cumming

“They were circulated to the entire committee who chose not to take further action based on the responses from the experts,” Turner said.

Spilo interrupted again. “That’s not correct,” he said.

“You’re starting to repeat yourself and waste everybody’s time,” Turner said.

After Mr. Spilo interrupted again, referring to “a farce,” Mr. Turner said, “Mr. Spilo you’re out of order. This is my second time calling you out of order. If I have to do so a third time I will remove you from the meeting.”

On Spilo’s motion to amend, the vote failed 1-7-1.

Yes: Nisha Arora (1)

No: Christina Poccia, Tony Turner, Clare Kilgallen, Todd Klair, Joe Rossetti, Josh Caspi, Laura Kostin (7)

Abstain: Mr. Kniffen (1)

Then, the motion to task the communications subcommittee did pass, 7-2.

Mr. Kniffen abstained, saying, “I’m opposed to continuing a food fight in the press.”

Yes: Christina Poccia, Tony Turner, Clare Kilgallen, Todd Klair, Joe Rossetti, Josh Caspi, Laura Kostin (7)

No: Nisha Arora and Jan Kniffen (2)

Motion to Refer to to the RTM/or the RTM Moderator/or RTM Public Works Committee to Replace Michael Spilo on the Building Committee

Laura Kostin moved to amend the agenda to include a motion that the building committee request the RTM, the RTM moderator or the RTM Public Works Committee replace Mr. Spilo as the RTM representative as soon as possible.

“You’re basically moving to ask me to remove me from the committee,” Spilo said, adding he believed the motion was not in legal order.

Mr. Turner said the town attorney could be asked whether it was in legal order after a vote.

Ms Kostin said she had asked the town attorney for clarification on whether Mr. Spilo was lawfully on the committee.

“Since he appointed himself and there is no RTM building committee any more,” she said, adding that the town attorney had the question in hand and would be able to opine.

Mr. Kniffen said he was opposed to adding any item to the agenda without his prior knowledge, especially one “as dramatic as this on a Tuesday morning at 8:00am.”

The vote to add the item to the agenda passed 7-2.

Yes: Christina Poccia, Tony Turner, Clare Kilgallen, Todd Klair, Joe Rossetti, Josh Caspi, Laura Kostin (7)

No: Arora and Kniffen (2)

In discussion, Spilo said the motion was out of legal order and was “wholly improper to attempt to silence dissenting voices.”

“Attempting to remove someone you don’t like from the committee, and to do this in a submarine fashion that pops up at the last minute seems very improper and counter to Democracy,” Spilo said.

Ms Arora said the discussion was “shameful” and she strongly opposed the motion.

“The idea that we’re going to throw anybody off the committee who we do not agree with – there’s been plenty said in the press by members of the committee that I do not agree with,” she said. “But everybody has a right to their point of view and perspective.”

In the end, the vote on the motion that the building committee request the RTM or RTM moderator or Public Works Committee immediately replace Mr. Spilo as the RTM rep to the committee as soon as possible passed 7-2.

Yes: Christina Poccia, Tony Turner, Clare Kilgallen, Todd Klair, Joe Rossetti, Josh Caspi, Laura Kostin (7)

No: Jan Kniffen, Nisha Arora (2)

See also:

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Republican Political Flyers Distributed at Central Middle School Morning Drop-Off Cause a Stir

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