By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Town Council President Robert Driscoll Jr. shocked the council and more than 30 people attending the Tuesday night Town Council meeting at the senior center when he announced he was resigning.
Driscoll calmly relayed what had happened. He attended a School Committee meeting where an interim Superintendent of Schools was selected with a 4-3 vote. He was home between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next morning. As he drove to work his car felt “wobbly” and he almost stuck a parked car. He then discovered he had a flat tire. At the mechanics, it was discovered that a screw had been twisted into the tire.
“An actual screw in my tire,” he said. “The car could have been driven by any of my family members. I have a line I draw. I will not have my family threatened.”
He talked about the process to select an interim Superintendent of School and the items posted on social media regarding process, one, written by School Committee chair Dawn Sullivan, which slammed members of the committee. She signed it #fedup and #exhausted.
“Tonight I’m resigning from this position immediately,” Driscoll said. “I apologize to everyone who has supported me, but there’s an element in the town that is negative and violent. We volunteer to do this and to put up with that kind of crap is ridiculous.”
He then gathered his belongings and headed out the door with an escort to his car from Police Chief Terence Delehanty.
Councilor Russ Sanford immediately became the council president and Councilor Phil Boncore was selected as vice president.
Driscoll has been the Town Council President for two years and recently pulled nomination papers for another run at council president. During his time as council president Driscoll has also served as a member of the School Committee.
Driscoll has served the town as a long time Town Meeting member, member of the former Advisory Committee, member of the Winthrop Board of Selectmen and the Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance.
“We’ve lost a good leader,” said Councilor Phil Boncore.
“It’s a shock to the community and a loss of a very capable good man,” said Sanford. “As in life, we’ll continue to move forward and work with the community and keep us in a good place.”
The announcement from Driscoll also sent the Town Council into an open meeting faux pas by immediately calling for a 10-minute recess and then an emergency executive session (closed door) meeting, without one of the eight designated reasons. When questioned the purpose of the meeting Boncore said, “for what just went on here.” Later he said it was to choose a new vice president, something that can only be done in public.
Several quick minutes after they adjourned to a room in the senior center they then returned for a proper request of an executive session with the stated reason being “to discuss the deployment of security personnel or devices.”
However, Police Chief Terence Delehanty said he would not comment on ongoing investigations.
Returning to a regular session after about 20 minutes, the board continued on with a portion of the regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting was cut half way through the agenda and the Town Council will meet again May 31 at 7 p.m. in the Senior Center.