Fall River City Council meeting turns into standoff between mayor, councilors

SE Mass

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A Fall River City Council meeting quickly got out of hand Monday when embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia walked onto the council floor uninvited.

As Correia walked towards the council floor, City Council President Cliff Ponte interrupted the ongoing line of questioning.

“Mr. Mayor, sit back in the audience,” Ponte said into the microphone during a City Finance Committee meeting. “You have not been invited.”

The unexpected outburst began moments earlier when the city council questioned administrative leaders about road beautification projects put forth by Correia.

“We’ve spent $2 million on a project that has been an epic failure,” Ponte told Correia’s staff.

When reached by phone, Correia said he came to the meeting late because he did not expect funding for the project to be in question.

“I decided to show up and defend the project for myself,” Correia said.

A video recording of the meeting shows Correia walking down and taking a seat on the council floor.

“Excuse me Mr. Mayor,” Ponte said. “Is there a reason you’re just walking on the council floor uninvited? You can go sit back down.”

Frustrated by the fact Correia remained seated, Ponte called for a recess twice. After the meeting, Ponte said Correia should have called or texted if he wanted to be invited.

“It’s unfortunate the city council has to adjourn its business due to the fact the mayor wants to be stubborn and sit at the council seat,” Ponte said before he held a vote to adjourn.

At that point, Correia told Ponte to “show a little decorum.”

“There is absolutely, unequivocally, no need for that kind of attitude against anyone, myself, my staff, and that won’t be tolerated by my administration,” Correia said.

After the second recess, three Fall River Police officers were seen on the recording walking into the room.

Councilor Shawn Cadime told Ponte to ask Correia to leave for a second time.

“If he doesn’t leave, we could ask the officers to remove him,” Cadime said. “I’m not looking to have that happen, I would hate to put our police officers in that position, and I know the mayor is accustomed to getting arrested. I don’t want that to happen here.”

“That is just, that is slanderous,” Correia told Eyewitness News by phone.

Correia was arrested last October on federal fraud charges. A month after his arrest, the city council voted “no confidence” in him as mayor.

After Cadime’s remark, a few of Correia’s supporters in the audience reacted by calling councilor’s names.

Ponte said he doesn’t regret what he said at the meeting. Correia said he hopes to have a working relationship with the council going forward.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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