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Cap’n Andy Retires The Hook
by Allan Appel | Sep 25, 2013 7:02 am
Posted to: Downtown, Wooster Square
The meeting was scheduled to start, as always, at 6 p.m. sharp and finish by 7 p.m.. Andy Ross would have it no other way.
Then something remarkable happened.
The meeting ended not at 7, but at 6:47 p.m.—and Ross, whose fun rotating venues and strict stopwatch-enforced speaking limits created a model for how to revive neighborhood citizen-police “management teams,” was chairman no more.
Ross Tuesday night presided over his final meeting as chair of the Downtown/Wooster Square Management, one of ten such citizen groups citywide. The teams, a fundamental part of community policing, have languished in other neighborhoods, but flourished in Wooster Square and downtown under Ross’s direction. Ross is stepping down after two years to concentrate on his current independent campaign for alderman in Wooster Square’s Ward 8 and on his new one-man anti-littering campaign.
His finale demonstrated the discipline and fun he has brought to the management team challenge. Let’s go to the play-by-play:
5:58 p.m. As the first of some 20 attendees trickle up to SeeClickFix’s cool ping-pong play room on Chapel Street, the latest rotating choice for the team’s meeting, Ross slices the two extra large pies, one plain and one pepperoni. People don’t come for the food alone, Ross asserts. But it helps. The pies always come from Marco Polo. Why? Because they always deliver on time.
5:59 p.m. “Welcome, as always there is hot, fresh pizza. Tonight there is [also] wine.” This is an informal if special evening. Ross will conduct the elections to replace himself and other officers. He says therefore he might relent a little on the ten-minute time limit for presentations. People doubt it. So he plies them with a French cab and a shiraz and malbec varietal made by the folks at Waxed Bat.
6:04 p.m. Representatives from the police and state Department of Transportation and Town Green Special Services District have arrived. Ross symbolically gavels the partiers, er attendees, to order. He tells SeeClickFix’s Ben Berkowitz, who is exiting in the back of the room, to say hi to his wife, baby, and dog.
6:11 p.m. Ross says he’s retiring not because of his campaigns but because the group “needs new blood.” He says his accomplishment has been getting the meetings up and well attended. It’s time for that new blood to accomplish specific projects, like better lighting, increasing the safety of the walk to the train station.
6:13 p.m. Merilee Beebe of DOT thanks Ross and his group for always being a reliable place to disseminate info about the ongoing traffic shifts in connection with the I-95 bridge and interchange redo.
6:17p.m. Elections begin. You can cut the tension in the room like, well, a slice of pizza. Ross begins to orchestrate. He nominates Abby Roth as member at large; Robert Lang nominates himself. Both are elected unanimously
6:26 p.m. Ten-year team member Robert Spirito reports on the status of the police department’s Civilian Review Board: 150 cases pending. Then he is unanimously elected treasurer. He later reveals that there isn’t much more than $28 in the team kitty. There’s a job for the new chairman. But who will that be?
There’s a buzz in the room. Or is that the shiraz?
6:27 p.m. “Who would like to be secretary?” Time’s of the essence, so Ross nominates Aaron Goode. Ross pauses for other nominations. When there are none, he quips, “If there is any competition, we will [resolve it by] sudden death ping pong.”
Goode prevails. On to veep.
6:28 p.m. Ross informs his audience that Peter Webster, who ran for alderman in the Ward 8 Democratic primary (and lost), has emailed that he will throw his hat in the ring for vice chair of the management team. Are there other nominees? Ross asks. Ross doesn’t indicate for those who don’t know that Webster is his political foe. “Going, going, gone,” Ross says, slipping into the argot less of an election than auction. A vote is taken; Webster is elected unanimously.
6:29 p.m. The main event: Andy Ross’s replacement. Ross announces that Kevin Coughlin, who lives in the Ninth Square Apartments and has been working with Roth and Goode on lighting and other local projects since moving to the area three years ago, will stand for the chairman’s job. “It’s work. It’s rewarding work, but it’s really work,” Ross warns. Coughlin is not deterred. Coughlin is elected unanimously.
6:30 p.m. Coughlin speaks. Ross stands near him. In Ross’s hand his blue phone still resides. “I’d like to take it to the next level,” says Coughlin. “I’d like attendance in this room to double in size.”
“Triple,” Ross offers a correction.
Coughlin, who is currently campaign manager for Harry Rilling, who is running for mayor of Norwalk, says, in sum, that Wooster Square is a microcosm for the city. That’s one of the things he likes about the job. As goes the sense of safety and well-being here, so it goes for the city, he argues. He also likes how DWQMT represents two very diverse neighborhoods.
Ross looks at the time. Coughlin knows the drill. He sits down.
6:33 p.m. Ross praises young people, Coughlin, as well as those who are working on his aldermanic campaign. “What did Johnny Carson say on his last night?” Ross asks. No one can seem to remember that historical moment. It’s not clear Ross can either, but he rallies: “Goodnight and thank you for having me as your chair.” Applause follow.
6:35 p.m. Top district cop Sgt. Tammi Means (pictured) bemoans the rash of downtown car break-ins. She reports that she has led the police Explorers in putting flyers on windshields warning drivers not to leave electronics exposed on seats. Ross listens, but you can see he’s relaxed. His grip around the phone and the time is not quite as taut.
6:40 p.m. Means introduces officer Stephanie Johnson, the department’s animal control officer. She’s to speak briefly because of the new Union Avenue dog park. It seems there was a dog bite incident there last week. The animal was taken to the shelter and its owner ordered to have it wear a muzzle when it’s outside. No children or strollers belong in the dog park, and owners should enter with their dogs, not send them in unattended. “I’m rambling” a bit, says Johnson. That’s when ex-chairman Ross pipes up and suggests she set up another meeting on the dog matters. Johnson agrees.
6:47 p.m. “Look I’m ten minutes early,” Ross declares. “Drink [more] wine. Eat [more] pizza. I’m offering to adjourn this meeting. Thanks for coming.”
Goode says that an aldermanic proclamation thanking Ross for his service was to have been delivered at the meeting.
It didn’t arrive on time.
Ross will still receive the much earned recognition, at next month’s meeting—time. place, and pizza to be determined by his successor.
Tags: management teams, Andy Ross
Post a Comment
posted by: Kevin on September 25, 2013 9:49am
As the soon-to-be former chair of the East Rock management team, I would encourage people to participate in these groups. They provide a forum to discuss local issues, talk with your alderperson (our state representative also shows up periodically), and meet your neighbors.
The Police Department’s website
has the meeting times and locations.