I guess the plan to sneak the first public meeting of the Town Board past the people and the press failed. The regularly scheduled meeting was to be on Thursday morning at 10 am, and there was a rally calling for St. Lawrence’s resignation already in the works. So, St. Lawrence calls a special meeting for Wednesday morning at 9:15. That introduces the quandary: which one to go to? Should the rally still be set for Thursday? What if our group shows up 45 minutes late, thinking the meeting is at 10?
Ah, how the indicted can scheme. Let ’em plan a rally for Thursday, we’ll call a special meeting for Wed with very short notice and change the usual time to 45 minutes earlier. Have the meeting, and then cancel Thursday’s meeting. If anyone does show up Wednesday, it’s a special meeting so the floor does not have to be opened up to the public for them to say bad things about us, and we’ve solved the problem of the first public encounter of the indicted and the indignant.
Well, it didn’t work.
As we arrived a little before nine, there were three or four camera crews unloading their gear, along with print reporters and a large group of animated Ramapo citizens. There was also a police presence.
The board members moved through the crowd with St. Lawrence talking into a microphone extended by a reporter. The newest board member (also recently indicted) Samuel Tress was absent once again.
Inside, board members took their places, and after the pledge of allegiance, they quickly voted their way through six resolutions. Then, only about five to ten minutes in, St. Lawrence announced to the crowd that the board was going into executive session to discuss personnel and litigation matters, and that everyone would have to leave the room.
Things began to get a little testy as one member of the public yelled out, “When does the public get to speak?”
St. Lawrence answered, Not at this meeting but at the next regular Town Board meeting on May 11. And what about tomorrow’s meeting someone else demanded. Tomorrow’s meeting has been canceled he called back.
Louder voices now shouted: Resign! Get out!
The rest of the board began to look a little more uncomfortable.
At this point, St. Lawrence repeated there was going to be an executive session, and he asked the police to clear the room.
Now the crowd got louder and more abusive. A woman made her way toward the front, and from between two others she called out: You always say you were born here. And you grew up here, and that you love Ramapo. You don’t love Ramapo! It was hard to hear what she said next as the crowd was getting louder. As she turned and came away toward the back of the room, you could hear her say, I’d like to punch him right in the face.
At this point, the police were calmly trying to move the crowd toward the back of the room, when a man, I believe it was Judah Lehrer, began to chant: Don’t leave the room. Don’t leave the room.
Eventually, the crowd was shepherded out through the double doors, but they did not leave. In the hallway, just outside the executive session, an impromptu press conference erupted with one man from Suffern reading the statement he had prepared. He directly addressed the television audiences of Channel 12, Fios 1 and several others. Then the cameras moved to several individuals, each responding with their criticism–all granted a much wider audience than if they had delivered their comments to the board members inside.
The executive session lasted until about 11, and when the doors were re-opened to the board room, there was only a handful of the crowd left, but the press remained. The meeting was officially closed, and at 11:06 St. Lawrence exited the room surrounded by three officers, refusing, as he walked, to reply to any of the reporters’ questions.
The police escorted him back to his office, and he remained there until the reporters left the premises. Then he slipped out the back door, got into his car and drove away.
No, it didn’t really work out as well as he planned.
Wonder what he’ll have for the May 11th meeting, at which he said the public will have a chance to address the board. There’s a clue. We checked the town website, and there is no Town Board meeting scheduled for May 11 on the calendar.