By Kristen M. Daum
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WELLINGTON — A citizen board member in Wellington is facing criticism after she likened the village’s planning director to Adolf Hitler during a public meeting last week.
Marcia Radosevich gave the Nazi dictator’s one-armed salute and said “Heil Hitler” while the board was discussing the powers of village staff members during the monthly Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board meeting March 5.
The gesture was directed at Tim Stillings, the village’s planning and development services director.
Radosevich was expressing her opposition to a proposal that would allow village staff to more openly consider project applications outside the confines of the village’s Development Review Committee, which meets monthly.
During a lengthy discussion, Radosevich said she “did not understand” why Stillings or his staff would have so much power to act independently, and after one exchange, she likened Stillings to Hitler.
Stillings said he was “taken aback” by Radosevich’s gesture.
“It becomes uncomfortable when you’re dealing with an issue whether it’s a board member or the public and they make it personal,” Stillings said. “There’s an attachment of you as a person to the discussion. That’s all that bothered me — that it became personal and not about the issue.”
After Radosevich made her remark and gesture, Stillings can be heard on a video recording of the meeting saying, “Wow. (pause) Wow. (pause) That might be a bit over the top, I think.”
Radosevich tried to laugh it off, briefly apologized to Stillings “if that offended you” and quickly moved on with the meeting, but everyone else in the room was visibly rattled by her actions.
“It was extremely inappropriate,” said Village Attorney Laurie Cohen, who participated in the meeting. “I understand that she felt strongly about the point that she was trying to make, but I think the words she chose and the gesture she made were really inappropriate.”
Radosevich could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Councilman Matt Willhite, who appointed Radosevich to the board in 2012, said she called him about the incident last week and she expressed remorse.
“I think she was very upset with the runaround she felt she was getting and the answers she wasn’t getting,” Willhite said. “I’m guessing emotions got ahead of her, and she did something inappropriate – she knows that, I know that, we all know that.”
Although Willhite appointed her to the board, he said he doesn’t have the power to remove her.
“We don’t have the ability to kick people off (citizen advisory boards),” Willhite said, adding that Radosevich could only be removed from the board if “she was to resign on her own.”
There are two more meetings scheduled before her two-year appointment ends May 31.
Village Manager Paul Schofield said he’s received at least one phone call from a resident complaining about Radosevich’s actions and some village employees are “understandably concerned.”
Village officials complimented Stillings for his restrained reaction.
“Quite frankly,” Cohen said, “I’m not sure I would’ve handled it in the same manner, with such dignity.”
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