IT director: No one disconnected Shelton alderman’s phone call before budget vote

Board of Aldermen member David Gidwani

Board of Aldermen member David Gidwani

Contributed photo

SHELTON — The city’s IT director repeated his denial last week that someone at City Hall disconnected Alderman David Gidwani’s call before he could vote ‘no’ on Mayor Mark Lauretti’s $128-million budget on June 5.

Daniel Bednarsky, during Thursday’s aldermen meeting, said that he was “extremely hurt and disappointed” after he read a Facebook post from Gidwani “to whoever at city hall disconnected me, shame on you,” which went up on social media only moments after the aldermen’s June 5 meeting concluded.

“It is very concerning that an aldermen for the city of Shelton would take to social media and make accusations that are completely false and baseless and have absolutely no evidence or truth to support such a claim,” said Bednarsky Thursday. The meeting was held at City Hall and livestreamed on the city’s website.

Gidwani, when interviewed after Thursday’s meeting, offered an apology to Bednarsky, saying that his comments were never directed toward him.

“I feel Dan is extremely qualified,” said Gidwani. “I never said him by name … I never pointed a finger at him. Maybe my call was dropped. If that was the case, why couldn’t the aldermen have taken a recess to get me back on, like they did for city council?”

During the June 5 meeting, Lauretti called for a final vote on the budget. All the aldermen that could be heard voted yes. Lauretti then asked twice for Gidwani, who has been a vocal critic of the mayor’s stance on many issues, and received no response.

After waiting a moment, Lauretti stated the vote was 7-0 in favor, with one abstention — Gidwani. Gidwani said after the June 5 meeting that he was disconnected during Lauretti’s comments and when he tried to call in, an automated message told him the meeting had finished.

Bednarsky said there are several departments at City Hall that Gidwani could have immediately contacted regarding his inability to call back in, including the mayor’s office, the aldermen’s clerk or IT, to ask what may have happened.

“Instead, he took to social media claiming that someone had disconnected him” said Bednarsky. “I assure you that this is not the case. He was connected throughout the entire meeting without issue.”

Bednarsky said there is no way he could have known who was on the caller list, as it only displays the last three digits of the caller’s phone number.

“Without knowing what number each alderman had called in from, which I assure (you) I did not, I could not have disconnected, muted or transferred the call to the waiting room,” said Bednarsky.

“Rather than immediately contacting someone via text/cell phone who was present in the meeting to notify us of the disconnect, in which case we could have paused the vote and waited for him to reconnect, he just waited a few minutes and attempted to call back in,” added Bednarsky. “At that time, the meeting had already been adjourned which is why it would not let him reconnect.”

Bednarsky said he needed to respond to Gidwani’s charges because, while he was not named in the Facebook post, he was operating the equipment and controlling the virtual portion of the meeting, “and therefore, I feel personally attacked by these comments.

“I have provided many years of service to the city as the IT director and have always conducted business with the utmost dignity and professionalism,” said Bednarsky.

Later in the aldermen meeting, when board President John Anglace Jr. asked for a five-minute recess so Bednarsky could get city corporation counsel Fran Teodosio on the phone, Gidwani asked Anglace why a recess was not taken at the June 5 meeting when he did not respond to repeated requests for his vote.

“You do it for council but won’t do it for an alderman when you call his name?” asked Gidwani. “Different rules for different people.”

Anglace said he was not in charge of that meeting, adding that, while entitled to make such statements, he did not like Gidwani’s comments.

“You don’t have to like them. This is not a contest. You can like me or not like me … I was elected by the people, and I’m doing this job for them,” responded Gidwani.

The aldermen then went into a recess. Once Teodosio was on the phone, the aldermen went into executive session to discuss a lawsuit filed by Durham School Services against the city and Board of Education. No decisions on the lawsuit were made after the session ended.