Photo: Planning Board Chair Charles Clark (left) and former member Raffi Manjikian.
In a tempestuous letter sent to the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Friday, Oct. 13, Raffi Manjikian abruptly resigned as an associate member of the Belmont Planning Board, eight days after fellow board member Charles Clark was named the body’s new chair.
Manjikian said he could not support the selection of Clark to lead the board after he treated him and then Planning Board Chair Liz Allison in “a hostile and threatening manner” and “creating a ‘hostile’ work environment” for future Planning Board meetings.
“I have lost all confidence that I can make any meaningful contribution to our community as your appointee to the Planning Board,” he told the Selectmen.
Clark’s response to Manjikian’s attack was short and concise.
“I wish him the best,” Clark told the Belmontonian.
Clark was elected chair in a 3-2 vote on Thursday, Oct. 5 with newly-appointed Stephen Pinkerton selected as vice chair.
Manjikian’s resignation came less than three weeks after the Selectmen reappointed him to the board for a term ending in 2019.
The bad blood between Manjikian and Clark goes back to a Sept. 5 Planning Board meeting where Clark accused Manjikian and Allison of an abuse of power in presenting a controversial proposal dubbed the “Big Idea” moving the Belmont Public Library from its current home on Concord Avenue to Waverley Square as part of a public/private revitalization of the business center.
“It’s not a ‘Big Idea.’ It’s a big lie,” Clark said at the Sept. 5 meeting. “I also think as a result [of] the actions that you’ve taken, you should resign as chair of the Planning Board and remove yourself from this process because I think you violated your responsibilities,” Clarks said to Allison.
“[T]he manner in which Charles Clark, took upon himself to use our public meeting to attack a colleague [Allison]; to air his ill-tempered rant, for the public to watch, was deliberate and calibrated,” said Manjikian.
He noted the Sept. 5 incident was the second – the first at the Beech Street Center in August – “attacking this same colleague in an affect-laden outburst” then quoting Clark as saying “‘… you have not heard the last from me …’ [(W]hile pointing his finger towards [Allison’s] face.[)]
“In a work setting, this behavior would likely result in a terminiation of employment,” Manjikian wrote.
Manjikian is calling on the Selectmen to “take clear decisive action to address this misconduct.”
“My volunteer service has long been guided by a principle ‘with each other, for each other,'” Manjikian stated. “I fail to see that I can uphold that principle in the face of such disregard for some people with whom you do not agree.”