Southbridge Town Council mum on investigation of councilor's conduct

Councilor Joseph E. Daou speaks during a meeting of the Southbridge Town Council, seen on Southbridge Community Television Jan. 9.
Councilor Joseph E. Daou speaks during a meeting of the Southbridge Town Council, seen on Southbridge Community Television Jan. 9.

SOUTHBRIDGE — A report following an independent investigation into an incident where police came to town hall to respond to an alleged dispute between a councilor and a secretary for the town manager's office was discussed by Southbridge Town Council in closed session Monday.

Vice-chair David S. Adams, who is heading all matters related to the investigation after Chair John L. Daniel recused himself, said he had no comment on the investigation or the matters discussed in executive session.

The investigation concerns a claim that Councilor Joseph E. Daou berated a town employee.

Southbridge police responded to town hall at 41 Elm St. early in the afternoon Nov. 30, on reports of an unwanted party making threats against another person's life. According to a police report, the dispute revolved around Daou and Gayle Raducha, secretary for Town Manager Michael F. McCall.

Raducha told police Daou had entered the town manager's office in order to support his brother, George Daou, in his efforts to get a liquor license renewed for the former Cruz's Lounge location on Pleasant Street.

According to Raducha, Daou demanded that she explain the delay with the renewal of the license. She said he then lost his temper and began screaming at her in the office's reception area.

Raducha has described feeling less safe in general following the incident.

Daou spoke as a citizen during a town council meeting Dec. 5. He said he had been treated with disrespect at the town manager's office.

McCall sent Daou a letter Dec. 13 telling him to stay out of the town manager's office and to correspond directly with McCall.

During a Jan. 9 meeting, town council unanimously voted to have a third party conduct an investigation into the incident. While the final vote was unanimous, an amendment to remove Daou's title as councilor at-large was approved in a 4-3 vote and some councilors voiced concerns that it may be inappropriate to get involved in the matter.

Monday, an executive session was held to discuss "the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health" of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual. According to the agenda item, the executive session was not to discuss professional competence nor discipline or dismissal of any employees or public officers.

The incident and the investigation were also not discussed during the public town council meeting Monday night.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Southbridge Town Council mum on investigation on councilor Joseph Daou