Icy Talks: Powers, Gill Have a Policy Disagreement

We’re not sure what qualifies anymore as an old-fashioned political donnybrook, but Council President Peter Gill and Councilor-at-Large Larry Powers were clearly on opposite sides following Gill’s announcement that the Winthrop Housing Authority had installed a gate at the back of Golden Drive for emergency access to the senior housing area and the Gorman/Fort Banks School.

Gill commended the Housing Authority, Police Chief Terence Delehanty, Fire Chief Paul Flanagan,  and DPW Director Steve Calla for installing the gate and creating a better situation for emergency access than had existed in the recent past.

But Powers, our former Fire Chief who has served many years in the public safety realm (earlier in the meeting, Town Manager James McKenna had deferred to his vast experience for a Logan Airport matter) and who is chairman of the Council’s public safety committee, made it clear in no uncertain terms that the proper procedure wasn’t followed in constructing the gate. (It wasn’t made clear which town or housing authority official had actually ordered the installation of the gate.)

Peter Gill obviously was trying to do a good thing for our seniors and our schoolchildren. But if you have a policy and six of your nine town leaders (savvy first-time Councillor Craig Mael actually abstained on the vote as to who was “out of order” in this procedure) feel that something wasn’t done legally or procedurally correctly, that’s not a strong and transparent process.

And then there was the offering from Councilor Nicholas DelVento, who said the Council might not have been following the town charter correctly for the entire time of the new form of government (a comment that caught everyone in the room off guard, including Powers, who was seated next to him). We trust that Nick did his usual thorough research before issuing that unusual comment.

We have felt that Peter Gill had made a smooth transition into his role as the most visible elected official in town and nobody can question how hard he’ s working for our community.

But Larry Powers is an elected official, had a distinguished career in public safety, and during his time on the Council has shown an ability to break down complex issues and simplify them and work toward the best possible solution. Mr. Powers should have had some input into the gate issue and we hope his feelings of ill-will, if any, after Tuesday’s meeting won’t deter him from reaching out to the public through his leadership post on the council’s public safety committee.

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