WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners discussed whether they would continue to hold shop meetings to work out agenda items before their regular meetings.
Commissioner Frank Fuda announced at the start of Wednesday’s regular meeting that the next meeting will take place on March 2 — meaning that for the second week, a Tuesday workshop will not take place.
Commissioner Niki Frenchko said the county had been holding shop meetings for years and not doing so was not transparent.
“Do you two want a workshop?” Fuda asked the other commissioners.
“We can discuss it later” said Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa, Chairman of the Board.
Cantalamessa went on to add that the workshops have “broken-down” and transformed into “bicker matches” full of he-said, she-said and political demagoguery. He called the workshops “a complete and utter disaster.”
Agenda items are discussed and commissioners have the opportunity to ask questions of authors – such as staff members from various county departments – during public workshop meetings, which also have time allotted for public comment. Public comments are also permitted at the end of regular meetings.
Without this week’s workshop, many of the 32 items on Wednesday’s agenda had to be explained by authors in the room or on the phone, often at Frenchko’s request.
Frenchko also asked Clerk Paula Vivoda-Klotz to read each agenda item in full for record-keeping purposes and for those listening on the phone.
The meeting lasted more than two hours, a subject that did not escape discussion.
Fuda said the county couldn’t have employees spending six or seven hours a week attending long meetings.
“The reason meetings are long, sir, is because you’re just babbling,” frenchko replied
Both Frenchko and Cantalamessa have placed agenda items calling for items to be submitted no later than the Thursday before the next meeting – a policy that has been in place for some time for bidders who are not part of the board of commissioners.
Frenchko’s article, which was beaten 2-1, called for each article to be accompanied by a narrative and supporting documents and for the submitter to have a representative present at the commissioners’ working session to answer questions. – so that the commissioners can gather additional information before voting. , rather than acting as a “rubber stamp”.
Cantalamessa’s point, which passed by the same margin, with Frenchko voting no, called for all agenda items, including those submitted by commissioners, to be presented no later than Thursday.
When discussing the workshops at the start of the meeting, Cantalamessa said the policy would give commissioners “ample time” to talk to heads of departments and agencies and be ready to vote, suggesting that private discussions could replace open workshops.
Frenchko said she mainly works on weekends and that demanding that commissioners have items by Thursday was an effort to prevent her from adding items to the agenda.
Fuda said legislation comes from a head of department or commissioner, late submissions leave no time for research.
“How am I supposed to research and find out if you’re right or not?” Or are you always right? Fuda asked Frenchko.
“You need a nap or something because you’re naughty.”
—Niki Frenchko to Frank Fuda
“What’s unfair is that you’re sitting here spouting lies about both of us.”
—Mauro Cantalamessa to Frenchko
“You have no respect for women.”
“That’s not true, Miss Frenchko, you have no respect for the women who work here…”
“The reason meetings are long, sir, is because you’re just babbling.”
— Frenchko to Fuda
“Commissioner Frenchko. I am not a little girl.
– Frenchko in response to Fuda repeatedly calling him “Miss Frenchko”
“Enough of the ‘you don’t understand.’ I won’t let you stop disrespecting me. I won’t let you keep saying I don’t know anything.
– Frenchko as Fuda talks about her