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Gagliardi Sounds Off On Town Council

January 17, 2011 by Josh Morgan

Town Historian Ron Gagliardi believes that the only reason the Town Council instituted a two year term limit on his office is because of a squabble he's had with members of the Cheshire Historical Society.
The Historical Society attempted to evict Gagliardi from an office he maintained at the Hitchcock-Phillips House on Church Drive for the last four years and he fought the move. A court date was set for Jan. 6, but, ultimately, Gagliardi “waved a white flag” and agreed to leave the space.
At the Jan. 11 Town Council meeting, Gagliardi took to the microphone to read a statement in which he “firmly believed” he would not have been subjected to a term limit and eviction if it wasn’t for “the efforts of a small band of Board members” at the Historical Society. Gagliardi, who was appointed Town Historian in 2003, said that, in recent years, things have soured between him and the group.
“After 2008, I became a whipping boy,” he stated. “I maintain that the indefinite vs. two-year term controversy would not have surfaced at all if it had not been for this prolonged campaign.”
Gagliardi explained that he tried to keep the matter in house, but he was “rebuffed.” The Town owns the Hitchcock-Phillips house and leases it to the Cheshire Historical Society. Gagliardi felt that an office for the Town Historian would logically be located in that building and should be afforded the same conditions, but others felt differently.
“I realize that the Town of Cheshire does not owe me an office,” Gagliardi said. “However, if I am going to contribute thousands of hours without pay, spend thousands of dollars of my own money on Cheshire artifacts, without a budget and without the option of being defended by the Town Attorney, a small office is the least that could be supplied by the Town.”
Gagliardi claimed that he has been “sworn at, called a liar, a con man” and more by members of the Board of the Historical Society. He also said that he was threatened by a member of the Town Council leading up to the Dec. 14 vote which changed his term limit from indefinite to two years coinciding with new Councils.
“I was even told by a member of the Town Council that if I did not abandon the court challenge to the eviction process, the indefinite term, if not the position itself, would come under scrutiny by the Council,” Gagliardi said. “It was threatened that, although I had served with distinction, there would be a vote to switch to a two-year term if I did not acquiesce.”
Gagliardi handed out copies of e-mails from 2008 to as recently as October 2010, but he altered the names used in the correspondence, making it impossible to tell with whom he had been communicating.
He pieced them all together to form a packet he referred to as “The Tempestuous Tempest in a Teapot in the Mythical Kingdom of Cheshirea” that he plans to update until his term expires on Dec. 31.
In an October 27, 2010 e-mail allegedly from a member of the Town Council, Gagliardi is told “the position is the Town Council’s to continue or discontinue at will. I would take no pleasure in going to that final step but I will if I feel compelled to do so.”
From the same e-mail, the Councilor states “I am no longer sympathetic to what has become a rather ridiculous much ado about nothing.”
Cara Luciani, the current president of the Cheshire Historical Society, said the group has no position on the Town Historian term limit, but she did want to clarify the eviction proceedings and what lead up to it. According to Luciani, the Society needed the space, referred to as the “apartment,” for storage as it is conveniently located. She said Gagliardi was offered a location on the third floor or in the basement, but he declined.
“Our collection continues to grow and there is a shortage of space,” Luciani said, adding the apartment would be the easiest and most efficient location for additional storage.
Town Council Chairman Tim Slocum reiterated what he previously told The Herald, that the term limit vote was “a matter of housekeeping” and he encouraged Gagliardi to “keep doing what you’re doing.”
“As far as I’m concerned, he is a Town Historian in good standing,” Slocum said.

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