Citing frustration with remote meetings, Lapienski resigns from City Council subcommittees

  • Precinct 7 City Councilor Jasper Lapienski speaks during a demonstration outside Greenfield City Hall in May. Citing frustration with the continuation of remote meetings, Lapienski has submitted a request to resign from his assigned positions on subcommittees of City Council, effective immediately. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2022 1:41:55 PM
Modified: 8/3/2022 1:38:47 PM

GREENFIELD — Citing frustration with the continuation of remote meetings, Precinct 7 Councilor Jasper Lapienski has submitted a request to resign from his assigned positions on subcommittees of City Council, effective immediately.

“Due primarily to the decision of the council to continue fake committee meetings indefinitely, and secondarily to the politically motivated gerrymandering of committee agendas, I am resigning from all my committee assignments, effective immediately,” he wrote in a letter to City Clerk Kathy Scott and City Council President Sheila Gilmour, as well as Precinct 2 Councilor Dan Guin and At-Large Councilor Penny Ricketts, who chair the two subcommittees Lapienski serves on. “If at some later date, the council, or some subset of it, agrees to resume meeting in-person, I would be willing to resume service on the Appointments and Ordinances Committee.”

Lapienski, who was elected in November, serves on the Appointments and Ordinances and Community Relations and Education committees.

“It was not a request,” he clarified in a phone interview. “I’m not asking permission.”

The resignation, he further explained, is partly due to his objection to “fake meetings,” or meetings held remotely.

“Anything that happens on a computer is a simulation of reality,” Lapienski said. “It’s not reality … and I think it’s not in the public interest.”

In his letter, Lapienski also called for the abolishment of the Community Relations and Education Committee. Lapienski said he would be willing to draft a proposal to replace the committee with a new one that would review the performance and function of city departments on a rotating basis.

Lapienski also expressed frustration with the “total control” the respective committee chairs and Gilmour have over the meeting agendas.

“Anything that members of the council want to talk about, with the exception of the president and the relevant committee chair, will either go to a discussion (without vote) … or it won’t even come at all,” he said. “There’s nothing that says something has to go on a committee agenda.”

Lapienski said he was surprised when a vote on resuming in-person meetings was taken up by City Council. That vote, however, failed with 11 members voting “no.”

“Rather than beat a dead horse, I decided to resign from committees,” he said. “If things change, I would be willing to resume.”

Responding to Lapienski’s letter at Tuesday’s Committee Chairs meeting, Ricketts said the city has “done everything to make life easier” for councilors. In particular, Chromebooks were provided to any councilor who needed one.

In an interview, Lapienski said he declined the offer of a Chromebook as he lacks wireless internet to use it. He added that he’s “not interested in having his service on council tracked by Google.”

“If you can’t participate at the committee level … I don’t think you’re upholding the duties of a councilor,” Guin said.

Gilmour said the full council will discuss “councilor expectations” at its meeting on Aug. 17. Meetings for both the Appointments and Ordinances and Community Relations and Education committees have been canceled for the month of August.

“This is going to require some more discussion,” Gilmour said. “I’m concerned about how the work gets done; we all rely on each other.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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