While it was a positive turn of events to see Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter issue a public apology to Councilwoman Jodi Giglio before this week’s Town Board meeting, it was also a reminder that our town supervisor can be his own worst enemy.
In this very space, it’s been written that if Mr. Walter truly believes he’s the man who can help revitalize Main Street, get the town’s finances in order and finally bring development to the Enterprise Park at Calverton, he’s got to keep his anger and arrogance in check. Enough with the shouting and the threatening of town officials. If he can’t control himself, voters will sense he’s unstable, and he will be bounced from office.
In this week’s cover story, Councilman George Gabrielsen called Mr. Walter’s behavior “unprofessional” and “over the top,” even calling for a reprimand if Mr. Walter didn’t apologize to his colleague. Councilman John Dunleavy said the supervisor’s behavior was “out of line.”
It doesn’t really matter whether Ms. Giglio was pushing to have Mr. Walter’s friend and political adviser Anthony Coates banned from Town Hall, which she denies. Nothing merits a verbal assault, especially in a professional setting like Riverhead Town Hall.
Mr. Walter is not the first, nor will he be the last, government executive who faces constant challenges, even from fellow party members and elected leaders. A board with members who disagree and keep one another in check is a healthy board. We as taxpayers shouldn’t want it any other way. He needs to learn how to handle it when he doesn’t get his way.
When Mr. Gabrielsen called on the supervisor to apologize to Ms. Giglio, it may have seemed as if Mr. Gabrielsen were piling on Mr. Walter. But really, Mr. Gabrielsen was helping the supervisor by acknowledging that, left unresolved, such a matter could come to a head again soon. And that would be bad for the town and for Mr. Walter. With the apology, we hope, the board can now move on in a professional matter.
Mr. Walter is doing a fine job as supervisor. But as a representative of this town, if he blows his top and embarrasses himself and his office again, it should be the people of Riverhead he apologizes to.
And who knows how understanding they’ll be.