BOE Candidate Escorted Out of Monday's Meeting

Police ushered out Vellon after contentious exchanges with president, public

What began as a meeting honoring student achievements turned confrontational, leading to police escorting a candidate in this April's BOE election out of the library Monday night.

Despite not signing the clipboard prior to the meeting, Ralph Vellon announced during the the meeting his intention to speak while a School No. 4 parent took the microphone. When BOE President Pete Zangari cited Bylaw 0167 in the board's Bylaws and Policies manual regarding public participation in board meetings, Vellon kept arguing, prompting the president to bang his gavel several times.

A few minutes later, Vellon's conduct led to Zangari tersely warning him, “If you don't know how to act, I'm going to ask you to leave.”

At this point, Vellon stood up and said loudly, “This board is a joke,” which prompted a recess in which nearly the entire BOE left the library for approximately 20 minutes. Two Belleville police officers arrived and escorted the candidate – who lost in last year's BOE election – into the hallway before seeing him out of the building.

Vellon, who filed a suit against the board requestion financial records throught he Open Public Records Act, was not arrested.

“You try not to let these meetings get out of control,” Zangari said afterward. “He's obviously here and he's obviously here with an agenda. He knows better than to get up and ask questions.”

At this time, Board Attorney Al DeMeo produced a copy of Bylaw 0167, which specifically states, “A citizen who wishes to speak at the meeting must sign up to speak prior to the opening of the meeting in order to be able to speak at the meeting.”

After the board left – but before the police arrived – Vellon stood in front of the room and loudly declared, “These are our children we're fighting for here. Not our jobs. You could walk away if you want, but the issues are going to be here.”

When Chris Lamparello, president of the Special Education Parents and Professional Organization, asked Vellon to stop, the man walked over toward her and said, “Too bad” before asking her “What are you accomplishing? What are you fighting for?” Visibly upset, Lamparello left the library.

And when Home and School Association President Jeanne Lombardi, who is running for the BOE on the same ticket as Zangari, attempted to reason with the man she is vying for an open seat against, Vellon snapped, “We know where you stand … You're with them.”

Before the meeting turned confrontational, Vellon sat in the front row and took notes while scoffing at several board comments and, at one point, stuck his tongue out at Zangari.

Once Vellon was escorted out of the building, the BOE returned and restored order before ending the meeting a short while later.

Check back with the Belleville Patch for a roundup of other BOE meeting happenings.

mdf214 February 08, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Danielle you are absolutely right. He is very immature. With all that he does I don't know how he feels he could actually sit on the Board and work with the members as things stand. He mocks and finds fault with them regardless of what they do. If I feel the board is wrong I tell them I don't agree with what they are doing and look for an explation as to their actions, but when I feel they are doing right, I back them. I came very close last night myself to telling RV off - I am sick of his campaigning for the audience at these meetings. He is constantly grandstanding. His actions are getting "old." He needs to take care of his family and their needs before he thinks he can take on the needs of all the children in Belleville. He may have the best interest of the children in Belleville in his heart but he is not using his brain the way he behaves. He needs to take a step back and see how 90% of the citizens are viewing him right now. He did snicker at the Board last night while while the School 4 parent was speaking, I heard him. He was rude and disrespectful to her and showed his immaturity. Like I said before he needs to step back and take a good look at himself and his behavior. Here's another vote he won't be getting come election day. As far as CB who commented below, he needs to stay focused on his employment opportunities and stop egging RV on.
Ralph Vellon February 08, 2012 at 03:04 AM
My friends, the business of fighting those in power can get messy at times. Let’s clear up a few points of interest. I never stuck my tongue out at anyone, nor would I. I’ve attended BOE meetings for many years. The sign in sheet is located on the podium until the agenda reaches remarks by the public. Last night the clip board was missing. Last night was the FIRST TIME that this policy was enforced. The policy was revised or Zangari arbitrarily decided to enforce it on me. The public should’ve been made aware of such changes. It’s just like Zangari and his BOE team NOT to inform us. I find it interesting that of the thousands of policies that the BOE has Zangari had a copy of By Law 0167. I wonder why? Could it be that they knew Ralph Vellon is outspoken and would challenge it? Regarding Ms. Lamparello, she addressed me first by stating, “I am sick and tired of listening to you speak”. It was at that time that I said, “so what”. Ms. Lombardi followed suite in support of Ms. Lamparello. Both support this”unethical” board. It’s not the first time that critical “rude comments” from BOE supporters are yelled out at opposition speakers. This BOE is biased. Last night was nothing more then a confrontation between opposing sides. I was attacked and I stood my ground. “We the people” have a right to speak. This BOE is doing everything it can to limit/silence the voice of the people who question them. I stand by my actions and make no apologies.
Carmen Vellon February 08, 2012 at 03:09 PM
mdf214-your comment is inappropriate and untrue. Ralph Vellon is an excellent husband and father, who takes very good care of his family, and who also takes the time to help out his friends and other members of the community. He is a loyal friend, a devoted coach, and, unlike many of the current Board Members, he does not let politics influence his integrity. He is one of the few people who has the courage to speak the truth about this BOE's unethical behavior. His entire family, all of his friends, and many residents of Belleville stand beside him and support him all the way!
Hotpep February 12, 2012 at 03:50 PM
That's not what I saw !!!!! I think you should write what actually happened....
Ralph Vellon February 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
This article has a bias slant. What I remember. Preparing to leave, my children ask me to stay home, a smile from my wife and hugs from my children. For a moment BOE meeting is an uncertainty. I enter and see usual long faces, lack of eye contact and a sensation back in the conflict. Yet, there a few warm smiles and greetings. I remember the children who are being recognized. Gather my thoughts regarding comments to the board. Approaching the podium I see the smirks and whispers. They know their depriving me of the opportunity to speak. Sign in sheet was gone long before the USUAL time. I sit down. Contemplating when can I ask? While Mr. Martinez steps away and his wife approaches the podium I asked Zangari to add my name. Zangari waves a policy at me and exerts his power and his decision. Martinez is speaking. My thoughts swing to my mentors, MLK, Kennedy, Lincoln and Mandela. What would they do? I chuckle over Zangari and DeMeo’s responses to Martinez. Zangari propels his frustrations at me. I respond in defense. A motion to recess, board walks out, I’m ATTACKED by their supporters, campaign workers, those who got jobs and those who want jobs. I explain my reasons. The police arrive. They give an ultimatum. My thoughts reverse to mentors of great strength. What would they do? The struggle is real. The impact is real. My commitments steady a father trying to do the right thing. I stand by my actions. “I shall return” as a great American solider once said.


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