The longest Board of Selectmen meeting in recent years was also among the most heated, as board members fired back at arguably their harshest critic on Monday night.
Chairman Mike Newhouse sparked a heated exchange with Kevin MacDonald when he told MacDonald that he will no longer be recognized and allowed to speak at selectmen meetings. Newhouse told MacDonald that would happen when he ruled him out of order multiple times at the last selectmen meeting, and said he will follow through on not recognizing MacDonald until it is legally necessary at a public hearing.
Newhouse said he made the decision because he believes confrontations with MacDonald could escalate to the point where it could become more than a verbal altercation.
“Your bizarre and confrontational behavior has escalated, and at some point I recognized the road we are going down here,” said Newhouse. “As a public servant, I am not going to have it on me and my conscience if ultimately something happens where a situation in this room escalates. And by a situation, sir, I am referring to you. I am not going to risk that.”
MacDonald continued to speak to Newhouse during the exchange, pointing out what he believed was an unnecessary step of having three police officers in the room during the meeting.
“You continuously interrupt, you’re confrontational, you make faces to the board during meetings,” said Newhouse. “I am making a judgment call.”
When MacDonald responded adversely to the prospect of not being recognized at future meetings, Newhouse told him he had already reached his decision.
“It’s a bad decision,” said MacDonald. “I hope the voters recognize that when you are up for election.”
While Newhouse did follow through on his promise not to recognize MacDonald during the meeting discussion that followed, it didn’t stop the town’s most vocal resident from attempting to get his point across.
During debate about the high school appeals, MacDonald scribbled down questions for selectmen on the back of a packet of paper he had, holding it up from his front row seat as board members spoke.
“We’ve been biting our tongue for a while,” said selectman Lou Cimaglia. “I would never say any resident can’t use a process within its laws. But to be the head of a group appealing this project and be such an irrelevant, immature, little man that acts like you do by interrupting and making faces at the board when we’re talking about real money, it’s embarrassing.”
The Board of Selectmen is next scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 28.