Councilors criticize mayor's accusation

Sexism claim riles Rockland Parks Commission

By Stephen Betts | Apr 10, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland Parks Commission member Joseph Steinberger said claims of sexism on the committee were outrageous and false.

Rockland — Rockland Mayor Valli Geiger stirred up a hornet's nest Monday night, April 9, when she intimated that sexism on the Rockland Parks Commission was behind the decision of its two female members to leave.

Geiger made her comments during a meeting between the City Council and Parks Commission that was held to discuss Geiger's proposal to expand the number of people on the Parks Commission and merge it with the dormant Recreation Advisory Committee.

"I think it is really important to go to seven members. I think it is really noticeable that the two women are choosing to no longer serve. I don't think that's an accident," Geiger said.

Her comments were immediately denounced.

"That's completely out of line," Councilor Adam Ackor said.

Parks Commission member Joseph Steinberger also said the comments were out of line.

"I respect the women on the council. To say this is a sexist male thing is outrageous," Steinberger said as he got up and left the meeting.

Parks Commission member Michael Thibodeau said it was ridiculous to say that there was a problem with sexism on the commission.

Joan Wright, one of two women on the five-member Parks Commission, announced earlier in the meeting that she was resigning, but said it was because of an overload of work.

After the mayor's comments, Wright said sexism was not the problem on the commission, but there were personality clashes. She said adding members could change the dynamics.

Councilor Amelia Magjik said Tuesday morning that she was shocked by the mayor's comment and it does not represent her views.

"We have plenty of strong personalities on the City Council, gender having nothing to do with it. What I’m interested in is the Parks Commission’s view of the discord within their group, and what types of solutions they foresee," Magjik said.

Steinberger had sharply criticized the council last month, when the mayor proposed her changes to the Parks Commission. At that meeting, he asked why the changes were needed.

At the start of the Monday evening meeting, he continued to question the need, saying the commission was working well together and making progress on projects such as the creation of the MacDougal Park and proposed walking trail.

The meeting was relatively cordial until Geiger made her claim about the pending departure of the two female members. Councilor Lisa Westkaemper had earlier told the Parks Commission members that the changes had nothing to do with their performance and was not an effort to weed out deadwood.

"We're not trying to get rid of anyone," she said.

Parks Commission member John Grondin said the action by the council to add two members could lead to the loss of more than two members.

Geiger said the changes she had proposed were simple ones, such as increasing membership from five to seven on the commission, limiting terms to three years instead of five years, and merging with the Recreation Advisory Committee that has not met for five years.

After her comments, Ackor said he was resigning from the housing committee created by Geiger.

Later Monday evening, the City Council voted to postpone the proposed ordinance to restructure the Parks Commission to allow more time to review all city committees and their structures.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 10, 2018 15:01

Gender has everything to do with it, wake up and smell the ___________________.



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 10, 2018 15:00

She should talk about sexism, look in the mirror. Who did what to the city council to bring on more women. ha ha ha



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Apr 10, 2018 12:22

Who needs that baloney. Small wonder the average person doesn't want to serve on any of these committees. Sad.



Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 10, 2018 09:43

More fractious comments by our mayor, who provides no data for her opinions...



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