For the first time as a Yorktown Town Councilman, I was absolutely mortified by the inappropriate behavior of one of my fellow councilmen, Vishnu Patel, during an interview of a candidate for possible town employment; a matter clearly set for executive session pursuant to the NYS Open Meetings Law.
In order to ensure a candidate for employment is qualified for the duties for which he or she is being considered, it is necessary to interview the candidate and explore his/her skill set as it would pertain to actual town duties and projects in which the candidate would engage.
Remarkably and engaging in conduct unbecoming an elected official, during this interview, Councilman Patel started yelling at members of the town board rambling on and claiming a violation of the open meetings law as the interview referenced the ability of the potential employee to apply his skills to actual town matters.
Mr. Patel eventually walked out in a huff, without the courtesy of an apology to the applicant. Mr. Patel stormed out of the board town room upon a reference to a town project brought up in the context of the potential employee’s ability to bring his/her talents to the particular project.
Mr. Patel objected to the interview protocol as he mistakenly thought simple reference to a project to put into context the skills of the interviewee was a violation of the open meetings law, notwithstanding it was pertinent to the discussion of employment.
Mr. Patel refused to listen as other members of the board tried to explain the significance of the conversation to the potential job. He was yelling over members of the board and the town attorney, was very disruptive and unprofessional, was paranoid when spoken to and inexplicably wanted all of the people in the room, including the applicant, to surrender their phones.
After he finally settled down, he heard reference to yet another project pertinent to the employee’s potential duties and then just walked out on the interviewee.
It appeared that the protestations of Mr. Patel were merely pre-texts for undermining the interview process due to the confidentiality of executive session.
Proper applications of the Open Meetings Law prohibit me from identifying the applicant or offer any other details, but I was ashamed and embarrassed by this behavior of Mr. Patel.
I believe the inappropriate behavior of Mr. Patel demands an apology so I am offering one. This is not the way a healthy government is supposed to serve its citizens and definitely not behavior becoming a councilman. I would also implore Councilman Patel to apologize to this applicant as well.