As a public city meeting wound to a close Thursday night, Bobby Valentine wanted to get something off of his chest.
"I'm tired of being threatened," Valentine said at the end of a two-hour Stamford Board of Representatives' Public Safety and Health Committee meeting. Valentine, who leads a task force seeking to resolve Stamford's fire department rift, was addressing criticism of him, the committee and the fact that it is devoid of firefighter union members.
"The mayor put this group together," said Valentine. "Missing from the group was any representative from the union. And the union is the 600-pound elephant in the room."
Valentine said he sought union representation on the committee. He also asked the union to participate at each task force meeting.
"Every meeting I was turned down," he said. "I don't know why there wasn't a member [of the union] on the committee." However, Valentine said, he resented being "belittled" by union members who rebuffed his requests for participation. "I'm 60 years old. I don't need that nonsense."
After the meeting, members of Local 786 said they wanted to be part of the decision-making process, not be sidelined to offering remarks from the crowd during meetings.
"We were not asked by the administration to be a part of the task force. We feel that's unfortunate," said Capt. Paul Newman of Stamford Fire & Rescue.
Local 786 Vice President David Davis said firefighters want to take part.
"We want to be at the table having direct input," said Davis, adding that Mayor Michael Pavia never returned his telephone calls. "We were denied access."
As for Valentine's complaint, Davis said, "I can understand where Mr. Valentine's coming from if he feels that way, but that's not the way we do business."
Davis said he would discuss Valentine's concern with him.
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