During last night’s Ordinance Committee meeting on the ongoing effort to revise the city charter, Council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133, suggested inserting language requiring Mayor Bill Finch and future chief executives notify the council head when they leave town.
Under the existing charter, if Finch were incapacitated, McCarthy would run the show.
“I’m not looking to take over when the mayor goes to Fairfield for a cup of coffee,” McCarthy said. “(But) if he’s in Hawaii and there’s an airplane crash, I feel a responsibility to … act as the mayor.”
Ruben Felipe, a Charter Revision Commission member and Finch’s deputy chief of staff, said he was not opposed to requiring notification when a mayor leaves the state.
Those present agreed that it will probably only be necessary when a mayor goes away for 24 hours or more.
“It’s so the president is aware he might be called on,” Steve Mednick, the attorney assisting with the revision process, said afterward.
Some of my colleagues in the newsroom pointed out ex-Milford Mayor James Richetelli Jr. caused a controversy in 2009 when he mysteriously disappeared. He was in Maryland seeking treatment for what he said was a dependency on an anti-anxiety drug.
Richetelli in a speech delivered upon his return that February explained the circumstances and apologized for not giving his second-in-command, Aldermanic Chairman Ben Blake, a heads up:
“About my departure: it didn’t go well. As mayor, I regret that I did not first contact Aldermanic Chairman Ben Blake to apprise him of my imminent departure. This was not a deliberate decision. My thoughts as I was about to leave were entirely focused on where I was going, and that I was about to leave my family for some time. If I had to do this over again I would have called Chairman Blake at some point before leaving Milford so that the transition of power would have gone smoothly and without any confusion. I apologize to him and to the people of Milford. I appreciate Mr. Blake’s discharge of the office of mayor in my absence, and the kind words he offered me and my family in this difficult time.”