October 17, 2013

Outburst interrupts City Council debate

The most unusual thing that happened at the City Council debate last night -- other than the fact that I didn't fall asleep, of course -- occurred early on after Bristol Hospital President Kurt Barwis asked the candidates what they thought about the proposed sale of the nonprofit hospital he heads to a for-profit company.
It's obviously a critically important issue for the community.
What was odd, though, wasn't the question or even the responses.
It was the fact that Jim Hopkins, a former Ned Lamont campaign worker, leaped to his feet in protest. Hopkins yelled from the audience in the council chambers that the head of the hospital should not be the one asking that question at the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce-sponsored debate.
Hopkins loudly proclaimed it was obvious there was "a stacked board."
The debate's moderator, Tim Furey, looked a bit stunned, then told Hopkins that he needed to sit down and be quiet. He told the man that the chamber had come up with the questions and that the audience had no role beyond watching.
Hopkins continued to protest.
Furey told him to stay in his seat and be quiet or he would have to call the police to come handle the disruption.
Hopkins responded that Furey should go ahead and bring in the cops.
So a chamber official went out and called the police. Long before they arrived, however, Hopkins had sat down and ceased his protest.
But two officers stood watch the rest of the evening, just in case.
The candidates' answers about the hospital deal were sort of interesting. God willing, I'll at least post them on the blog here at some point soon.
I wound up with 6,300 words of notes from the debate. Weeding through them isn't quite hell, but it's not exactly fun either.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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