Trio wants mayor out in Palisade

Recall petition circulated after saloon confrontation

A committee that includes a man who lost his bid to be elected to the Palisade Town Board this spring is attempting to recall Mayor Dave Walker, charging that Walker abused his power and attempted to interfere in the election.

Committee members Wayne Reid, Joyce Eielson and Jeff Meade are circulating a petition this week alleging Walker threatened to shut down The Livery Saloon following a confrontation there with Reid and others, and he tried to keep Reid from being elected to one of three town trustee seats.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the trio had obtained more than 30 signatures, Reid said. They need to collect 103 valid signatures within the next two months.

The reason for the recall listed on the petition reads, in part, “We fell (sic) that the Mayor has not acted in our best interests, that he continues to flaunt his power as Mayor in an attempt to intimidate others, and that he has not acted in a manner consistent with the values of the Town of Palisade which he purports to represent.”

Walker lashed out at the committee and specifically Reid during a Town Board meeting Tuesday night, claiming the petition is full of lies and constitutes an effort to divide the town. He called Reid a “brain-damaged candidate” who is part of a group of “low-life Livery drunks.”

The petition stems from separate incidents that supporters of the recall allege occurred three days apart in February at The Livery.

Reid said a female bartender on Feb. 23 overheard Walker say he wanted to get Reid out of the running for the Town Board. On Feb. 26, Walker and then Mayor Pro Tem Mario Coringrato got into an argument with a group of people that included Reid. Walker claimed someone in the group pretended to pull out a gun and shoot him, and bar staff didn’t offer any help to him. Witnesses contended Walker, on his way out, yelled that he would shut the bar down.

Palisade police investigated the incident but declined to pursue charges.

Besides the complaints raised in the recall petition, Eielson said Wednesday she is appalled by Walker’s attitude and thinks he and other members of the Town Board lack accountability and are living by a set of rules different than those for town residents.

“They could care less what it does to the original people of Palisade,” said Eielson, a town resident for more than 30 years.

Walker spent several minutes Tuesday night reading from a multipage statement he wrote prior to the meeting. He accused the recall committee of wanting to take control of the town and claimed part of its motive derives from the fact it couldn’t stop projects he believes have improved the town, including the reconstruction of Kluge Avenue and the opening of a downtown pedestrian plaza.

“Anyone who wants to debate the real issues, here I am,” Walker said.

He concluded his response by looking directly at Reid, who was sitting in the back of the room, and saying, “I’m not going to bend over for this.”

Two other trustees, Art Silver and Jim Harkreader, defended Walker, with Silver labeling the recall effort “mob rule.”

Harkreader said he thinks Walker always has been fair, and he credited him with helping inject life and bring new businesses into the town.

Coringrato, who declined to run for re-election, attended Tuesday night’s meeting. He called the recall “unbelievable” and painted Reid as someone who “sits in a bar and comes to meetings three times a year.”

“I’m tired of this crap,” said Coringrato, glaring at Reid as he walked out of the meeting.

Trustee Penny Prinster called on everyone to “stop the rhetoric.”

“Somebody is going to get sued,” she said. “You can’t call somebody names.”

Asked to respond to Walker’s comments from Tuesday night, Reid said Wednesday that Walker “sounds like a kid in junior high school who’s throwing a temper tantrum because he didn’t get what he wanted. I don’t think he did his cause any good.

“Everybody is lying but Dave Walker, is what he wants everybody to believe. His only version of the truth is his. That’s pretty appalling,” Reid said.

Walker was elected to the Town Board in 2004, appointed mayor in 2007 and elected mayor in 2008. His current term ends in 2012.


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