Mayor Jaisel Correia. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
FALL RIVER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Members of the Fall River City Council angrily responded Monday night as Mayor Jaisel Correia interrupted their meeting. Now, Correia is defending his actions.
The incident began when Correia came onto the council floor, and took a seat at the table. City Council President Cliffe Ponte then asked him repeatedly to return to the audience.
“Mr. Mayor, we’re in a middle of a discussion,” Ponte told Correia at the meeting. “You have not been invited to this table for discussion.”
The police were eventually called to the meeting when Correia refused to leave.
Correia told WBZ NewsRadio he came to the meeting because some members claimed a particular public works project was being poorly managed, and he wanted to defend his staff in the matter.
“This was a signature project that I wanted to voice my opinion on, especially because there were questions that I could have answered that, had I not been there, were not able to be answered,” Correia said. “No one can represent the mayor better than the mayor can represent himself.”
During the meeting, Ponte said he did not find Correia’s behavior to “be appropriate.”
“I think it’s a lack of decorum and professionalism on your part,” Ponte said. “You feel that it’s appropriate to come down when you don’t like what you’re hearing. So, it’s my position that I don’t think you should be here.”
Ponte also pointed out that Correia had not been at the entire meeting on Monday, and was not invited.
“Going forward I will attend each and every meeting for the entirety of the meeting with my staff,” Correia told Ponte.
Councilor Shawn Cadime addressed Ponte, saying that if the mayor did not leave, he could be removed by police.
“I know that the mayor is accustomed to getting arrested, I don’t want that to happen here,” Cadime said.
After Correia refused to leave the floor, the council voted to adjourn.
“It’s unfortunate that the mayor wants to take it to this level so that the city council has to adjourn its business,” Ponte said.
In response, Correia told WBZ NewsRadio, “This is the nasty side of local politics where people want to promote their private agendas in election year rather than actually show some decorum and discuss issues in a proper setting, such as the council chamber.”