, Newburyport, MA


August 1, 2013

Our view: Salisbury heading toward ugly political brawl

Salisbury selectmen are heading down a tricky road as they prepare to oust the Liquor Licensing Commission chairman — not for anything he did on the commission, but for his outburst during a selectmen’s meeting held on July 1.

Liquor Licensing commissioner Gil Medeiros was clearly out of order, and grossly out of line, when he verbally attacked the three selectmen who voted against a proposal to bring a slots casino to town (it lost 3-2). The videotape of the incident, available on Salisbury Community TV, shows a clearly agitated Medeiros laying a thick barrage of criticism on selectmen, repeatedly calling their vote disgusting, calling them disgusting and threatening to have them thrown out of office.

Probably worst of all was his body language. He stands in the middle of the aisle, repeatedly pointing his finger at selectmen. He moves toward them, then away, then toward them again, perhaps 10 feet or so away. As he carries on for about three minutes, his anger and vitriol subsides somewhat, but it still breaks the accepted decorum of public meetings.

He’s not alone. Bruce Arakalian, who owns the property where the “slotsino” was proposed, circled around Medeiros, heaped criticism on selectmen and physically got closer to the board members than Medeiros, jabbing his finger at them. Both men are allowed to continue their accusations without being gaveled down or told to stop.

No one on the other side of this kind of criticism would feel comfortable, especially in the heat of the moment. Given that selectmen appoint the license commission, what came next isn’t a big surprise.

Selectmen informed Medeiros recently that they plan to remove him from office for his actions. Selectmen clearly have the power to take this punitive action, as it is granted in the town charter. But it’s been rarely, if ever, used.

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