RTM Vote in Members of GHS Vestibule Building Committee, Including Controversial Nominee

The existing Greenwich High School main entrance into the “glass corridor” that typically swarms with students during passing time, and dates back to the school’s 1970 opening.

At a school safety forum at GHS last November, Police Chief Heavey said originally the corridor didn’t have glass, and was all open. Students stashed books and coats in cubbies rather than lockers.

Times have changed, and safety has become of increasing concern. Longstanding resistance among parents to detailing a police officer to the high school waned. Then in 2007 Officer Carlos Franco was assigned. Six years ago, a second officer was added.

The BOE is also considering a second access road that would give egress to East Putnam avenue, to take pressure off the congested Hillside Ave. Currently there is just the one entrance/exit to the campus. A Fuss & O’Neill, traffic study recommended an additional egress to Route 1.

Back in July Dr. Toni Jones suggested names for a vestibule building committee, but the First Selectman, after checking with the town attorney Vin Marino, said it was the purview of his board to make the nominations.

Fast forward to Monday night’s RTM meeting. Several people nominated by the Selectmen were approved to be members of a vestibule building committee: Jake Allen, Maureen Bonanno, Ashley Cole, Louis Contadino, Stephanie Cowie, Stephen Walko and Megan Galletta.

In addition Christina Downey will represent BOE. Mike Mason will represent the BET.

During the RTM meeting the nomination of Ms Galletta created some controversy.

Kim Blank said the Education Committee did not vote in favor of Galletta’s nomination, though Blank would later speak in favor of the nomination.

The Education Committee’s vote was 5 in favor, 6 opposed, 1 abstention.

Ms Blank said some people on the committee had voiced concerns that Ms Galletta participates in gatherings maskless gatherings in Binney Park on Sundays.

“Some said they questioned (Galletta’s) judgement particularly regarding school safety and wearing of masks, and felt she was evasive in answering questions,” Blank said.

Blank said Galletta had explained that if masks were required to be worn on school grounds, she would wear one.

“Others said she overstated her experience in technology and ability to contribute technical expertise to the committee since her experience was in sales rather than a more technical role,” Blank said.

The existing entrance to GHS opens to the busy “glass corridor.”

Michael Spilo, chair of the Public Works Committee, who would also go on to voice support for Galletta’s nomination, said his committee met jointly with the Education Committee, and some members had the same concerns.

The Public Works Committee voted in favor of the nomination 6 in favor, 5 opposed and one abstention.

Ms Blank said the town is lucky to get so much “free labor” from its volunteers.

“I can’t imagine what our tax burden would be if we actually had to pay people to sit on the various boards, commissions and committees,” she said. “When someone volunteers to do a job, my view is we should generally be fast to say thank you before they change their mind. I think we’re heading down a bad path.”

Blank said many on the Education Committee voted no because they assumed Ms Galletta disagreed with mask requirements.

“Honestly, I don’t care what her view is – childhood immunizations, gun control laws or HIV education in the school,” she said. “None of them have any bearing on her ability to contribute to the GHS vestibule committee…There should be no litmus test on someone based on their judgement.”

Blank said another objection was whether Galletta could contribute a technology perspective since her background is in sales rather than in a technical or programming role.

“I think this shows a misunderstanding both of what people in tech sales do and what kind of tech background could be useful to the committee,” Blank said. “She isn’t going to install a high tech security system.”

“We are in danger of making volunteering for board in our town a true case of no good deed goes unpunished.”

Kim Blank, RTM Education committee

Hale McSharry of District 5 disagreed.

McSharry said the group that meets without masks in Binney Park is in violation of State pubic health mandates.

“It was her characterization of the group that gave some members pause,” McSharry said. “In her description of the group as a non political, friendly gathering, the appointee mentioned that the group met to discuss the dangers of wearing masks.”

“Holding the belief that wearing a covering over one’s face, nose and mouth to prevent contracting or spreading a deadly respiratory disease, which is spread through the air is dangerous, and should raise questions,” McSharry said.

He added, “The RTM serves a check on the Board of Selectmen’s nomination, and we are charged with making sure we have the right people for the job. Seeing as this appointment is for a committee dealing with public safety, I strongly feel that the appointee’s assessment of public danger, or lack thereof, is most relevant to the RTM’s decision on her appointment.”

First selectman Fred Camillo said he strongly supported of Ms Galletta’s appointment. “She is a perfect fit for this committee. What really disturbs me is what the last speaker alluded to.”

“We go down a dangerous path in this town if we start to question people’s personal views that have nothing to do with the committee, board or task force that they seek to volunteer on. We are a government of volunteers. God help us if this becomes the norm.”

Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo

For her part Ms Galletta, who lives in North Mianus and whose four children attended GHS, said her children were in Greenwich Schools on December 14, 2012 when the Sandy Hook mass shooting took place. She said she was passionate about school security.

Galletta said in addition to coaching basketball, chaperoning class trips, serving on the NMS board and serving as class mom countless times, she enjoyed giving back.

In her current job she said she reports to the chief revenue officer and attends weekly strategy sessions with a global team and the CEO.

“I have deep roots in security technology, including authentication and authorization solutions, which would then back end into provisioning and de-provisioning solutions,” she said. “Understanding what the overall population is, building access, keycard access, back ending that into systems that can again add users and remove users from systems.”

“Also it would be very easy for me to evaluate proposals from numerous companies, interview vendors and understand the solutions being presented,” she added.

Galletta addressed concerns about her participation in the maskless group she said, “I comply completely with all mask mandates. You may see me around town in a camo mask. …I’m not about harming anyone in the public, and those with any compromised immune system.”

She said the group that meets Sundays comes together to share information, and that most of the children have special needs, including respiratory issues or allergies.

“We come together and share different perspectives and share links,” she said.

“We’re meeting out in a park in the open air. …We’ve never been more than 20 people. We are socially distant and we’re out in the open air. We’re not breaking any mandates or rules. We’re just coming together to share perspectives,” she said. “We’re not a radical organization.”

In the end the RTM vote on Ms Galletta was 154 in favor, 59 against and 7 abstentions.