ATTLEBORO — Joe Caponigro, the volunteer chairman of the city’s traffic study commission whose head is on Mayor Paul Heroux’s chopping block, will get a hearing before the city council and mayor Tuesday.
During the hearing, Caponigro and members of the commission he leads will have an opportunity to object to Heroux’s plans to remove him from his post.
Caponigro has been a member of the commission since 2007 and has served as chairman since 2014.
Heroux announced Caponigro’s suspension last month and his intent to remove him from office, saying he’s “displeased” with Caponigro’s positions on issues. The mayor has declined to be more specific, but has also cited “ideological differences.”
The mayor gets the final say on the dismissal under Article 3 Section 4 of the city charter, which means the session will simply be a vehicle to allow the 13-year commission member to publicly object and make his case against removal.
Council President Mark Cooper said he and the mayor met with City Solicitor Cynthia Amara for 2 1/2 hours on Tuesday to discuss the ground rules for the hearing.
The public will not be allowed to speak at it but can attend. And they can voice their opinions on the matter during the council’s “committee of the whole session” that night, which will take place after the hearing.
Cooper also said the council will hold a vote to register its opinion on the removal, although it will not have any legal bearing on Heroux’s decision.
“It’s important that the council takes a position on the outcome whether it affects that outcome or not,” Cooper said.
He said he and the mayor will preside jointly over the session. It’s one of five hearings to be held that night, starting at 7 p.m.
The council agenda puts the Caponigro hearing last on the list.
Heroux’s aim to remove Caponigro has aroused a number of protests from those who argue that simple disagreements are not cause to remove a dedicated volunteer.
While Heroux has refused to specify how Caponigro “displeased” him, Caponigro and the commission did oppose the mayor’s solution to parking problems on Beagle Club Road last spring. And Caponigro, as an individual and a home builder, opposed the mayor’s push for the city to adopt the “stretch” building code, which mandates tougher standards for energy efficiency.
The council eventually approved the code.