Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Holy #$%@!

Nothing I could write could come close to this. I have a great imagination, but even I was in awe when I read this article. I wasn't so much in awe that a particular person said the things alluded to, but that he was outed by those he said them to. That is awesome.

In the immortal words of Dee Snider, "We're not going to take it anymore!"

If the allegations are true, as described below, then there is only one recourse in this case, and apologies are best offered before saying good-bye.

Article published March 28, 2010 by the Telegram & Gazette

#&@%! were not deleted
Heated exchanges at panel meetings


STURBRIDGE — “Shut your (expletive) mouth.” “You are such a piece of (expletive)” “You are dirty. … You’re a whore.”

No, these are not lines taken from an episode of “The Sopranos,” but heated verbal exchanges during two separate meetings of the Town Administrator Search Committee.

And now committee members Carol A. Childress and Linda N. Cocalis are taking fellow member Selectman Scott A. Garieri to task. The two women waited until the executive meeting minutes were released last week because they said they didn’t want to affect the process.

In executive session Jan. 6, there was a difference of opinion about how to re-evaluate the 65 applicants for the town administrator position. This sparked Ms. Childress to say to Mr. Garieri that if he didn’t have the time to commit to the committee, maybe he should resign. According to Ms. Childress and Ms. Cocalis, Mr. Garieri shouted back, “Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion.”

“I was shocked. He was physically angry. He was red-faced. His eyes were bulging,” Ms. Childress recalled. “It was shocking and I think we were all shocked by it. And I didn’t have a response.”

“That’s somebody saying, you don’t matter. You don’t exist and your opinion doesn’t mean anything to anyone else,” Ms. Cocalis added. “That’s wrong, because everybody’s opinion should count and everyone should have an opportunity to speak without feeling intimidated or insulted.”

Mr. Garieri said in a telephone interview last week that he probably did say, “Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion,” but he added that his words were taken out of context and that Ms. Childress was “mouthing off” about something else that had nothing to do with what the committee was talking about.

From that point on, Ms. Childress said she was going to the search committee meeting with trepidation about what was going to happen next.

During open session Feb. 2, Mr. Garieri chastised Ms. Childress for deviating from the approved questions during the second round of town administrator candidates’ interviews.

“The chairman, James Ehrhard, stated at the beginning of the interview process, that he wanted there to be flexibility,” Ms. Childress said. “So we all felt pretty much at ease asking our approved questions and our unapproved questions, whatever they may be.”

Furthermore, at the Jan. 6 meeting, Mr. Garieri said it was “embarrassing” and “unprofessional” that Ms. Cocalis would ask several questions then follow it with “just kidding.”

Last week, Mr. Garieri stood by these statements.

“I was shocked. And it started to make me feel that it was a handicap that I had,” Ms. Cocalis said. “I started to second-guess how I spoke to people. It made me self-conscious.”

“That was a totally involuntary thing that she did,” Ms. Childress added. “It’s innate. It’s who she is.”

In the minutes, which Ms. Childress was taking, she wrote that Mr. Garieri’s statements “not only unfairly singled out” Ms. Cocalis and herself, but that his objections are “patently false and can be considered unconstructive, bordering on personal attacks.”

“I think he called the process into question,” Ms. Childress said. “It wasn’t just me. It was calling into question the entire process and how the interview process took place. So I took exception to that. It was a personal attack.”

When the discussion became heated between the two Feb. 2, Mr. Garieri said, “Anyone want to keep this thing in order?” gesturing to Ms. Childress.

Taking offense, Ms. Childress countered, “Don’t refer to me like that. Don’t you call me a thing. Who do you think you are?”

Mr. Garieri responded, “I was being polite.”

Ms. Childress said to Mr. Garieri, “You are such a piece of (expletive). … You are. You’re such a piece of (expletive). Who do you think you are?”

Ms. Childress said, “You just make me feel dirty whenever I am around you,” in which Mr. Garieri responded, “You are dirty. …You’re a whore.”

“It was just nasty this whole thing that he did with singling us out,” Ms. Childress said. “I regret that I handled his attack that way, but I was feeling pretty attacked being called a thing,” she said.

Mr. Garieri said “this thing” was referring to “this meeting”. As for saying “You are dirty…You’re a whore,” Mr. Garieri said “I don’t recall the whore part of it, but I might have said you are dirty.”

Ms. Childress said she has certain expectations of public officials and that she doesn’t think anyone should be treated the way she was treated. But she is not looking for a reprimand or an apology, because, she said, that is a decision the town should make.

“I don’t owe her an explanation,” Mr. Garieri said. “I’m not even going to give her the benefit of commenting on her idiocies that she just goes off on. All she’s looking for is attention, and she’s not getting it from me. Whatever I said I stand behind and that’s that.”

Ms. Cocalis, however, thinks Mr. Garieri owes an apology to the search committee, the selectmen and the town of Sturbridge.

Copyright 2010 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.

Comments closed. I think we've said all we can with this one. Mass. has a law against beating dead horses, too.


  1. And Mr. Erhard (selectmen candidate) was the chair of this committee? Holy #$%@!

  2. So, finally we get a little peek at some of the intimidation that goes on at private meetings in this town. One can only guess what is being done to intimidate the voices of the citizens who "get out of line." 'Wonder why folks don't want to run for office?

  3. Someone had to keep his wits about him, and it looks like Erhard not only kept his wits about him but saw the task of the committee through to completion, even with the opening of "Pandora's Box."

  4. I cannot believe this happened. how can a businessman in town expect to survive if he spoke like that to anyone?? His business would be destroyed, right? there has got to be more to this than what was reported. there has to be.

  5. My concern is Ehrhard he was the chairman of this committee and let this happen. No way should he be a selectman. He just doesn't have what it takes to be a leader.

  6. This is so crazy. I went to the T&G article and read the comments. LIke the incidents themselves, they are very high school-ish. And amongst them all, every once in a while, there is this one guy that keeps writing that James Erhard was the chairman of the committee, and he doesn't deserve to be selectman because he allowed the behavior to happen.

    Huh? I guess James should have given the two of them a slap on their noses with a rolled up newspaper, huh? No, they are adults, responsible for their own actions. No one else is responsible for what they say and do, but this guy will keep popping his head up, and squeak out, "But Erhard was in charge of the committee! He was chairman!"

  7. Yes they are obviously adults. But I do believe that the chairman has a duty to conduct meetings in a respectful manner. I feel sorry for the two women that were disgraced while serving our town. That should not happen under anyone's watch. Those comments are far more demeaning to women than calling it a "high school-ish" incident. (And I'm sure our high school students would agree)

  8. Tell us all, how does James Erhard become responsible for anothers words? Has he suddenly become a ventriloquist? Are Scott and Carol suddenly sock puppets with no mind of their owns, and only speak what is fed them by Erhard?


  9. Erhard was chairman he was the one in charge he was responsible to keep the meetings in control. What did Ehrhard do? Nothing. Did he report Garieris behavior to anyone? Apparently not. Once the disrespectful slurs started he had a duty to call the meeting to order. He could have done a number of things but he did nothing. He does not have what it takes to be a leader.

  10. And you know this because you were there, right?

  11. The fact that Ehrhard kept that committee moving through the process with speed and discipline is obvious. Depsite the BOS rejecting the first three candidates, Ehrhard had the committee bring the BOS another three candidates in no time. The fact he had to lead and deal with babies like Childress and Garieri is a credit to his leadership. Obviously he got the meeting back in order in no time.

  12. How is Carol Childress at fault? Have you read the reports? Here from the T&G: "Ms. Childress to say to Mr. Garieri that if he didn't have the time to commit to the committee, maybe he should resign. According to Ms. Childress and Ms. Cocalis, Mr. Garieri shouted back, 'Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion." So, it's Carol Childress's fault for expecting Garieri to do his job? Then later at another meeting he calls her a "thing" and says he was "being polite". This was followed by "Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion". Garieri is the issue, plain and simple. If Ehrhard is a man he will come forward with a statement that Garieri should step down. Otherwise he's saying that Selectmen can say or do whatever they want.

  13. Apparently, Johnathan thinks being verbally abusive to others, especially women, is acceptable. This whole scene is actually a good test of Ehrhard's leadership skills. Will he stand by his buddy Garieri or be a real leader and speak the truth?

    The T&G article says executive meeting minutes were released. There must be more info there.

  14. Its amazing how one comment can get everyone off track. This has to do with Garieri being a loose cannon. In my opinion all remarks should be aimed at him, he's an adult, he's responsible for his words and actions. I'm no great fan of Carol Childress but no one deserves to be talked to this way, no one.
    Hopefully Scott will do the right thing, apoligize and then resign.

  15. I suggest that people read the article again. If, in fact Mr. Garieri was referring to the meeting as "the thing," then it was Ms. Childress that started the name calling. Just goes to show you there is always two sides to every story.

  16. What's going one here? Ehrhard kept his cool and kept the committee together. We finally got a town administrator. Let the children settle their own spat. Neither is a shrinking Violet.

  17. What's going one here? Ehrhard kept his cool and kept the committee together. We finally got a town administrator. Let the children settle their own spat. Neither is a shrinking Violet.

  18. You should read the article again and back up a few lines. The T&G article said Mr. Garieri called her a thing; when she questioned it, he said he "was being polite."

    Ehrhard didn't keep his cool. Looks like he hiding was under the table for most meetings. Some leader that is.

  19. It was Ehrhards job to keep the meetings going in a calm positive manner.The town has harassment regulations that do not appear to have been followed. This goes to Ehrhards character as he also felt it was OK to advance a Town administrative candidate not once but twice that had been found responsible by a judge of harassment. Garieri is at fault but Ehrhard is also responsible.

  20. The jeweler has lost his bling.

  21. Has anyone read the Southbridge news article about this? I cannot believe my eyes: as a woman, I am completely disgusted with James Erhard's comments. He doesn't think Garieri should resign for his actions and he thinks Carol should apologize to Garieri!

    Is he for real? Was he even AT those meetings? Ehrhard completely buried his head in the sand. He is not selectman material.

  22. I had the same reaction. Ehrhard says Scott should apologize now? Now James? How about suggesting (or requiring) that when it happened!! Why now Ehrhard? You know darn well why he says that now - because the two brave women are coming forward for the harrassment they received and nothing was done about it. There are harrassment laws & Garieri's behavior was inappropriate and those who witnessed it did nothing, as if nothing happened.

  23. It needs to be addressed. Let's see if it is.

  24. Buzz at town hall today is Garieri's getting recalled. Can't wait to sign those papers.

  25. First of all, everybody is responsible for their own words and actions. nobody else can be held accountable for what another does and says. second, I don't see a recall happening. he did nothing illegal. Disgusting, but not illegal. and unless it has changed since this morning, there is no law in massachusetts about being an asshole, and holding public office. it's done all the time.