- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:48
- Published on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:48
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Those “damn kids” are words that will follow Councilman Chiarello for years to come.
Public comments and citizen support for the town’s school system took center stage at the CB Town Council meeting held on Thursday, June 12. Many of the speakers supporting the school system were very passionate, and at times, some speakers seemed shaken with anger, frustration or nervousness.
The crowd was generally behaved in the beginning, but there was the occasional outburst from a single citizen responding to individual Council comments. However, toward the end of the public comments portion, some of the crowd showed their upset with council member comments by clapping continuously to drown out Council’s remarks.
If citizens remember nothing else from this meeting, they will remember words uttered by Councilman Jim Chiarello in his exchange with School Board Chairman Tim Trivett - the “damn kids”. Nothing much after that is audible due to the crowd’s reaction.
After public comments were heard during the meeting, Mayor Mike Ham realized he had skipped over presentations, so Ham asked Trivett if he had any comments. Ham invited Trivett to speak. Trivett began by saying he had not planned to attend but said things that were said when the School Board did not show up were often incorrect or were used against the Board. At the podium, Trivett was received with audience applause.
Trivett’s statement started with an exchange with Councilwoman Linda Brubaker, whom he accused of finding pleasure in her announcement of the School’s Superintendent, Kathleen Beane, having resigned.
Brubaker had commented at the opening of the meeting, “It is with a heavy heart I announce that our superintendent has resigned. She will be with us ‘til the end of June. I wish her Godspeed.”
This exchange led such disruption, the Mayor called a recess. After the recess, the exchange continued between the two. Trivett then spoke briefly with Councilwoman Wanda Goforth, who confronted him about a resolution with incorrect information regarding land descriptions. Then, Chiarello addressed Trivett- when Chiarello referred to the school children of CB as “damn kids”.
Trivett began, “Some of you have done a real good job of forcing our employees to leave. It’s just really sad to think that y’all would stoop that low.”
Recently, the school board accepted several resignations, including that of Beane.
Trivett continued, “You know Kathleen is leaving; I’m sure Ms. Brubaker couldn’t wait to make that announcement, just like she has with other things.”
Brubaker objected to the Mayor, stating Trivett’s comment was a personal attack. The crowd became noisy and eventually began clapping and yelling, which led to the Mayor taking a 5-minute recess.
When the meeting reconvened, Brubaker addressed Trivett, stating that he had talked about the Council taking $600,000 from the town’s school system. Trivett stated he didn’t know what Brubaker was talking about. Brubaker then asked what the School’s intentions were concerning “turning over school property on the hill”. Trivett stated, “I have no comment on that, either.”
Trivett then apologized, saying, “Mr. Mayor, I apologize for using anybody’s name, I thought if they could use my name when I wasn’t in the audience, it would be appropriate to use their name up here [indicating when standing at the podium], but it probably wasn’t.”
Trivett said that there has been too much confusion concerning the council funding the elementary school’s move and asked for something in writing to verify that the council will fund the move, so the school system can move forward on that matter.
Brubaker stated that the Town has a resolution stating the town will secure a bond to fund the move, but part of the “condition” was that the school would turn over the property containing the burned out building to the town. Brubaker further stated, “So if you have no comment, I respect that, but until the property is turned over, I don’t see how we can go forward with the bond issue.”
Trivett argued, “You raised taxes $0.03 to pay for the bond; that’s what you said. So now, you want to raise taxes to make everyone of these citizens pay for that bond. And now you want the school property, when the School’s going to have to build a building, and we have to sell that property; I’m just asking, isn’t that true?”
Brubaker responded, “You are the one who suggested to this council that you give us the property.”
Councilman Gary Seeber interjected, “That was MY idea.”
Brubaker continued to maintain that Trivett was the one to make that statement. Brubaker then debated the issue of releasing information, stating it was not proprietary information, as had been claimed.
Trivett said he didn’t want to debate that issue. He commended the council for holding the budget part of the meeting at the high school. Trivett then asked Brubaker, “Didn’t you, Ms. Brubaker, say that every single person on this Town Council fully supports the school division?”
Brubaker agreed. Then Trivett asked, “If that’s the truth, then just let me read the email that you wrote the next day.”
Brubaker responded, “You’re not reading an email that’s private information.” The crowd reacted with a roar.
Seeber cut in, saying, “Robert’s Rules of Order says he can address the body, but he cannot address any particular person. If he’s going to read personal email, that’s incorrect.”
Mayor Ham stated, “It should be done in a different venue.”
Trivett agreed not to read the email aloud but stated he would pass it around after the meeting.
Goforth began an exchange concerning a resolution sent by the School to the Council. In April, at their regular School Board meeting, the CB School Board voted to pass a resolution that would transfer deeds to the former elementary school campus property to the Town on or before September 30, 2014, after all Virginia Code requirements have been met and with the stipulation that any and all insurance settlements from the elementary campus fire of Jan. 5, are complete.
The resolution was in response to the council’s demand for collateral in exchange for funding costs associated with the elementary school move to the high school campus. The funding would also include several maintenance repairs needed at the high school, including replacement of old football field lights.
Council recently voted to raise real estate taxes by $0.04. The council explained to citizens during the public hearing that $0.03 of that increase was dedicated to paying off a bond the town intended to take out to fund the elementary school move and high school repairs.
At the June 12 meeting, Councilwoman Goforth stated that the legal description in that resolution was not correct. Trivett replied that it was his understanding that the property was to be sold, and the proceeds given back to the school system. Trivett asked, “Am I missing something?”
Seeber continued to state that it was his idea and confirmed that he had indicated that the proceeds were meant to benefit the school.
Then Chiarello challenged Trivett to work with him.
“Mr. Trivett, I would challenge you to work with me to come up with the funding on the school. Like you stated, you said we made an offer, and we didn’t comply with that offer. I’m going to make an offer to you; let’s see if you can comply with that one. And again, we need to put down the swords, ok? Stop the battle; this is ridiculous! What’s at stake here- it’s not your reputation; it’s not my reputation, because it doesn’t matter.”
Trivett replied, “It does matter! My reputation does matter, yours may not, but mine does!”
Then Chiarello made the comment, “Me and you are insignificant; it’s the damn kids in this school..”
At this point, members of the crowd reacted to Chiarello’s adjective describing the children with shocking noises and questioning, “What kind of kids?”
Comments became unproductive after that, and Mayor Ham finally stepped up and ended the presentation portion of the meeting.
Councilman Pete Bone suggested that both entities continue to try to get back to the Memorandum of Understanding that outlined both the Town’s and School Board’s intentions, which is currently in the hands of the School’s attorney. Bone also suggested the council and school board step back and let the staff heads iron out the budget, and come back to the council with what is needed in funding so the council can decide how to raise those funds. During the meeting, the council passed a resolution to authorize staff to work together on the budget.
Councilman Tommy Edwards addressed Trivett, suggesting the school board office start sending letters to put some pressure on officials to get a ruling on the fire. Edwards said, “I know they are slow, but this is ridiculous.”
Next week, The Journal will feature citizens’ comments from the June 12 meeting.