More than six years after his death, and as his successor prepares to leave office, former mayor Frederick L. Lisman was the topic of conservation at the Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday night.
Two members of Lisman’s own party offered contrasting views of the city’s longest-serving chief elected official. The tone, at times, sounded like the famous rebuke to Vice President Dan Quayle in a campaign debate: “I knew John Kennedy. I served with John Kennedy. You sir are no John Kennedy.”
Tom Beirne Sr., one of Lisman’s closest friends and the one-time Board of Aldermen chairman, said Lisman was careful with the city’s purse strings and taxpayers’ money.
Current mayor Jim Richetelli “couldn’t be more different than Fred. Fred could be mean when he had to,” Beirne told the aldermen.
“Jim doesn’t like confrontation and he doesn’t like saying no. As a result taxes and bonded indebtedness have doubled in the past 10 years.”
Alderman Pamela Staneski, R-5, took the rare step of going to the podium herself to rebut Beirne. “I was on the Board of Ed while Fred was mayor and his saying no is what got our schools in such a shape that we’ve had to sell bonds to pay for the work,” Staneski said.
Beirne, who was booted off the Republican Town Commitee several years ago, endorsed Democrat Ben Blake for mayor.
“The Republicans have been in for 22 years and we haven’t done that good a job lately,” Beirne said. “I think it’s time we let the other party run things.”
To Alderman Bob Joy, R-2 and the GOP candidate to succeed Richetelli, Beirne said, “I think you’ll make a fine mayor someday. But you need to stay where you are for a few more years.”