NORTH ADAMS -- City officials have denied any wrongdoing in response to an Open Meeting Law complaint filed with the City Clerk by Robert Cardimino on July 5.
Cardimino, who was served June 18 with a "no trespass" order banning him from City Hall property, now has the option of filing the complaint with the Attorney General’s office. It’s the second state Open Meeting Law complaint against the City Council and Council President Michael Bloom that he has filed since March.
"We served Mr. Cardimino with a response today and faxed a copy to the Attorney General’s office today," City Solicitor John DeRosa said Thursday. "In a way, it marks the beginning of his filing the complaint with the Attorney General."
He said that after reviewing the complaints, it has been determined that Bloom’s actions were "appropriate and proper under the circumstances and [Cardimino] had been appropriately warned." In addition, his request to remove the "no trespass" order was denied, as it also was determined that the action was "appropriate" because the "underlying rational and concern for the safety of the council members and the citizens of North Adams" still remains.
Cardimino said in a telephone interview earlier this week that he would pursue the complaint with the Attorney General’s office should the city fail to reverse the "no trespass" order and find fault with Council President Michael Bloom calling him "out of
"The minute I say something Bloom doesn’t agree with, I’m ‘out of order.’ I’m sick of what is going on here," Cardimino said Tuesday. "It’s about time someone clamp down on this guy."
Both Mayor Richard Alcombright and Bloom referred comment on the matter to DeRosa.
In the complaint, Cardimino asserts that the City Council and in particular, Bloom, violated his freedom of speech and the Open Meeting Law during the Open Forum portion of the council’s June 12 meeting. He asks for Bloom’s ruling to be reversed and that "in the future, allow the public to speak without interruption or bullying from the president or the council members." He also requests the "no trespass" order be removed and that he "be allowed to attend council meetings as allowed by the Open Meeting Law and desist from further harassment."
During that portion of the meeting, Bloom ruled Cardimino out of order after he told Councilor Marie Harpin to "pay her taxes," referring to a list of unpaid taxes he had received from the city. Bloom said the comments were a personal attack on the councilor and would not let Cardimino continue to speak.
Cardimino continued to accuse Harpin of not paying her taxes after the meeting, crossing through a gate that separates the council floor from the public galley to do so. The police were called to City Hall by a councilor and he was escorted out of the building.
However, Cardimino denies that his statements were a personal attack against the councilor.
"When I called out Marie Harpin for being on the delinquent tax list, it was not a personal attack -- that was public information," he said. "It was based on a public document. The rules say I can comment on municipal matters and this is a municipal matter."
According to the city’s Administrative Officer Michael Canales, the list that Cardimino received, dated March 22, was more of a "snapshot" of people who had not paid their taxes by that particular day, rather than a list of delinquent taxpayers.
"If he had gotten the list from two days later, [Harpin] would not have been on the list," he said. "Technically, taxes are not delinquent until the end of the fiscal year. You’re still subject to fees and penalties during that time. We really begin to worry about people being behind when they hit the 90-day mark."
Canales said Harpin paid the balance of her tax bill after receiving a 30-day overdue notice.
Prior to filing this complaint, Cardimino filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with the city and later the Attorney General’s office on April 9, asserting that his freedom of speech and the Open Meeting Law were violated when he was escorted from Council Chambers at the end of March after refusing to put away a sign.
A ruling has yet to be handed down from the Attorney General’s office.
"The mayor has said ‘enough is enough.’ Well, I say enough is too much," Cardimino said. "This isn’t it. There’s more coming down the pipe."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email