New London City Council as it has been known slips into history

New London - It was an unusual night at the New London City Council meeting Monday. There might never be another like it.

At the council's next meeting, Dec. 5, the city will be under the administrative management of Mayor-elect Daryl J. Finizio.

Mayor Martin T. Olsen, in the last meeting of his administration, started the night with a prayer, even before taking the roll.

And then, in the portion of the meeting intended for councilors to respond to public comments, Republican Councilor Adam Sprecace requested a moment to thank the public, and especially one of his fellow Republican councilors, the longest-tenured councilor, who will not be returning to the head of the chamber when next it meets.

"Thank you for coming to what everyone realizes is the last meeting of this term," he said. "Thanks to those I have served with. Especially thanks to Rob Pero. ... I just wanted to publicly thank him for his friendship and his tutelage. We didn't always agree, but in the grand scheme of things we were always pretty close in our philosophy."

And he gave Pero a small token of remembrance, an elegant money clip inscribed with the city logo.

Olsen allowed the warm feeling to continue, as Pero thanked Sprecace, the council, the public and perhaps, most important, his wife, Dora.

"I thank my wife. She came when I was sworn in 16 years ago. And she's here tonight, taking pictures," he said. "There have been lot of meetings in between."

For one of those pictures, Pero stood before the list on the council chamber wall of past mayors, which included his own name, smiling at his wife with his hands spanning mayors with whom he served, from William Satti, in 1995-96, to Olsen, who also offered fond farewells Monday night. "I served with more than 30 different people," Pero said. "Collectively, I think we accomplished more in this past two years than any other council I sat on. I think we've done well for New London."

Pero thanked many city officials, employees and volunteers. He offered a warm and gracious thank you to Gail McKissick, the clerk of the council. He said after the meeting that he leaves with no regrets, proud to have served. He said he only wished he could have led the transition.

"I was one of seven," he said. "I wanted to be the one to lead."

Olsen departed with similar passion. Like Pero, he was proud of his service.

"It's been my great pleasure. It's been a privilege and honor to serve. I've enjoyed both terms," he said, recalling his first tenure in 1987-91. "I want to thank the public, thank the council. I hope I've done you all well."

In doing its normal business, the council passed an ordinance that would allow it to appoint a person as its administrative staff. In voting for it, they described it as something that was overlooked in the charter revision process.

Pero was the only dissenter, suggesting that the present council should not make rules by which the next council might have to abide. Sprecace explained that the ordinance allows the next council to make an appointment. It is not a mandate. What's more, he said, without the ordinance the council would not be allowed to appoint a person to create its agenda and do its record keeping.

c.potter@theday.com

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