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Commission nominees denied for ‘derogatory’ comments on social media

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With the Nov. 6 city election less than three months away, opposing mayoral candidates are publicly calling for their supporters to “settle down” in the wake of recent squabbles on social media.

Alderman John Barzizza, who is challenging incumbent Mayor Mike Palazzolo, recently asked Germantown residents to “be kind to one another.”

The comments came at the 2-hour mark of a recent Board of Mayor Aldermen meeting that saw members cast divergent votes on several matters.

During the meeting, Dean Massey, who serves as the alderman liaison to the city’s 12-member Public Safety Education Commission, recommended two new members to serve on the commission through Dec. 31.

The board was asked to consider the appointments due to recent resignations from the commission.

However, board members voted 3-2 against both of Massey’s nominations, with Barzizza acting as the lone supporter.

Alderman Forrest Owens said he voted against both nominees due to “evidence that the individuals…made some derogatory comments on social media.”

“I don’t believe this is the type of behavior we would like to see a volunteer of the city exhibit,” he said. “In light of what is going on with the (commission) right now, a resignation of our chairman and from another individual, I just don’t believe an individual who has made controversial comments is best to work in that type of commission structure.”

Noting that the comments on social media were political in nature, Barzizza said the matter “goes both ways.”

“Both sides made disparaging remarks to one another,” he said, referring to a specific thread of comments on social media. “I think the entire issue is blown out of proportion. We are in the heat of a race already. It has just started and it has gotten very contentious already.

“Lets all be kind to one another,” he added.

Palazzolo agreed.

“Thank you, alderman,” he responded. “Very well stated.”

Regarding the nomination process, Massey said he was “completely blindsided” by the fact that three of the aldermen did not approve his nominations.

“We are taking an official government action to penalize two citizens based on political view points that they expressed,” he added.

However, Alderman Rocky Janda cited that the social media comments were more than political in nature.

“I too have serious concerns about the proposed candidates,” he said. “I do not consider them part of the community of kindness.”

Aldermen Janda and Owens, along with Vice Mayor Mary Anne Gibson, voted against Massey’s nominations.

The Public Safety Education Commission serves in an advisory capacity regarding public safety and health issues as addressed through citizen education. The commission provides support and service to appropriate city departments with such support and service limited to public educational and informational activities and resources.

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