Supporters and opponents of City Councilman Joe DiLetto clashed at Monday night’s regular meeting as citizens packed the meeting hall, some to support Theresa Bishop’s push for DiLetto’s resignation and others to vouch for DiLetto’s right to remain in office.
Theresa Bishop addressed the Madison Mayor and City Council on Monday evening to further press the council to comment on her request for Councilman Joe DiLetto to resign due to allegations of bias, threats of bodily harm, and bullying.
“I feel his actions toward me have been rude, threatening, sexist, biased and unprofessional to the point that I ask for resignation, of his own accord, or his removal from his position at the request of the Mayor and Council,” said Bishop to the council. “There has been no answer to my request.”
While the council declined to comment due to an ongoing lawsuit, of which Bishop is a part, other citizens stepped up to defend DiLetto, chalking Bishop’s allegations up to “hurt feelings.”
Sherry Terrell Alexander was the first to speak for DiLetto, earning raucous applause and a standing ovation from over 20 audience members. “I would like to take this opportunity to speak on behalf of Councilman Diletto. I feel like this is a personal attack against him. I know him personally. There are many here in this room who know him and his character and know the type of person he is. I feel like it is inappropriate for someone to just call for his resignation because her feelings got hurt.”
Alexander praised DiLetto’s integrity, character, and worth ethic, citing his willingness to collaborate with people inside and outside of his district, volunteering at the daycare center and even picking up trash.
‘I am wanting to move past this. It has gone on far too long, It’s time to just let it go. Mr DiLetto was elected to this position and he was put into office by his constituents that live in his district and his seat will be up at the end of 2019…I don’t think that someone should have the right to just decide and call for someone resignation. If they have that right, then we the people that elected him, have the right to say ‘well, we want him to stay seated. We elected him to do a job and we want him to stay seated.’”
“I’m tired and many of his constituents are tired of him being personally attacked, added Alexander. “He has a lot of support and a lot of people desire him to stay in office.”
Donald Melvin, second vice president of the NAACP, also spoke on DiLetto’s behalf.
“The three years that I have known Mr. DiLetto has been very, very, inspiring. This gentlemen works with all types of people. He has no certain pick when it comes to people…That is why I cannot understand why this issue is continuing to grown instead of letting it die. There could not be a better man for the job,” said Melvin. “If your feeling were hurt, put yourself in my shoes and you will really have some hurt feelings. We need to let Mr. DiLetto do his job and let him finish his term.”
Bishop addressed the council a second time seeming to stick to her position.
“It’s very tempting to address the difference between threats and hurt feelings but I am not going to do that at this point,” said Bishop before inquiring about another issue.
Bishop’s complaint stems from an email DiLetto penned last year after a particularly contentious public meeting regarding Madison’s Comprehensive Planning Process. In an email from DiLetto on April 10, 2017, he wrote to City Planner Monica Callahan after that public meeting in which she received harsh criticism from several attendees.
“I apologize for not aggressively attacking the barbs thrown at you tonight,” wrote DiLetto. “I have been asked to bite my tongue and not create a situation that might be construed as bias in dealing with the NIMBYS. However, I should have come over the counter with Theresa [Bishop] this evening and am sorry I did not, especially when the comp plan process was challenged. I need to come up a way to leverage the public against them and I will.”
Earlier in the meeting, Bishop pressed the council to respond to her complaints against DiLetto and vowed that the issue would not go away for the City Council. Bishop appealed to Perriman’s Christian faith when asking for his support.
“If you are that person of values and character and belief in Jesus Christ, which I honestly think you are, condoning this sort of behavior simply doesn’t add up…I’m sure Councilman DiLetto has done good things while on the City Council. But he stepped over the line and there should be consequences. It’s that simple. I would like an answer tonight,’ implored Bishop. “If you allow Joe DiLetto to remain in his position on the City Council it would be a travesty. A decision of that sort would send a signal to everyone in Madison that you condone his behavior and his actions. It would send a signal that you condone that above and over the safety and the welfare of the citizens you were elected to represent. And it would also send a signal that the ethical behavior does not matter to this mayor and council. Or are you going to do the right thing?”
“These matters are all alleged in the lawsuit, it probably be improper for the city to comment on it now, as your counsel I would advise you not to comment,” said City Attorney Jim Carter.
“This is not about the lawsuit…this is about threats against me,” insisted Bishop. “There’s a difference…It is frightening to be targeted. His behavior toward me is quite strange. I am glad it’s out in the public now, but it’s not over. It’s not going away if you ignore it. I find myself in a position of having to defend myself against falsehood that have circulated as truth.”
“Miss Bishop, as our legal counsel has said, we are under litigation. But we do thank you for your comments tonight.”
“That is so, so, very disappointing,” said Bishop as she left the podium.