The three-term mayor of Bristol, Connecticut, has offered up an apology following an outburst during Tuesday's city council meeting where he told Republican city council member Ken Cockayne to "shut the f--- up" after union members took over the meeting.
The Bristol Press reports that Mayor Art Ward issued an apology Wednesday morning "for the spontaneous outburst" after first denying he ever even used the foul language. When Ward learned his words were captured on video and posted on bristolpress.com, the Democratic mayor then apologized to the three-term Republican council member.
According to the paper, the spat occurred during a portion of a heated meeting when a union leader, Paul Keegan, was railing against Republican council members for their support of exploring privatization of municipal services, while they take advantages of benefits as city employees themselves:
As Keegan’s words grew louder and more personal, drawing cheers from a packed house, Cockayne turned to the mayor — who sits beside him — and demanded that Ward take charge of the meeting or else he would seek to end it.
“Mayor, get control of this council meeting,” Cockayne told Ward. “If you’re not going to control the council, I will make a motion to adjourn.”
“I don’t care,” Ward responded.
“Get control of the council,” Cockayne again insisted.
“Shut the ---- up,” Ward responded, his voice slightly hushed but still clearly discernible.
“What did you just say to me?” Cockayne asked.
“I just said, I’ll take care of it,” Ward answered.
“Get control of the council,” Cockayne fired back.
“Back off,” Ward said. “He’s got a right to speak his mind.”
You can watch the outburst below:
Cockayne went on to tell the paper it was “unfortunate that Mayor Ward once again let the union leadership take over the council chambers and turn a council meeting into a union rally.”
Republican legislators in Bristol have been in an intense battle with city public employee unions as the caucus has moved to privatize certain services in the city, The Hartford Courant reports:
The council rejected a four-year deal during a raucous meeting Tuesday that was dominated by a much larger-scale dispute about municipal labor. Several city unions are furious that the council's new Republican majority is floating the idea of outsourcing their jobs, and filled the council chambers with more than 100 workers, most carrying protest signs and wearing union-produced green T-shirts.
With several other unions bargaining for new agreements, Republicans wanted to scuttle the police contract, which would have awarded raises of about 2 percent over each of the next four years. In exchange, though, police agreed to gradually double their share of insurance premiums to 16 percent, cap some long-term disability payments and accept random alcohol testing. They also agreed to let the city skip annual $450,000 contributions to their pension fund.
Ward and the union spent months reaching the deal, and Mussen had to go back to his membership twice to get it ratified.
Republicans, though, have complained that Ward kept them out of the negotiations and didn't press for provisions they wanted. Prior councils routinely approved contracts negotiated by Ward and his last two predecessors, but Tuesday night's decision signaled that he'll need at least one more Republican vote to approve an agreement.
Ward is the same mayor who demanded an apology from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in December 2010 after he blasted the city, saying on-air that Bristol has nothing but "ESPN and a couple of cheap hotels."
The Bristol Press reported at the time that Ward fired off a note demanding an apology from Limbaugh to the people of the city he slurred with his “erroneous venom.”
“I insist that you render us all an apology for your characterization of the city as only having ESPN and a few cheap hotels,” Ward said.
“We are extremely proud of our community, being the home of ESPN, being hard working, patriotic people, with the fifth largest veterans population in the state of Connecticut."