Dell’Abate earns renomination

Gary Dell’Abate, seen here speaking before the Representative Town Meeting in 2011 over his initial nomination to the town’s Board of Parks and Recreation, will again be up for a vote after being renominated for —a second term. Ken Borsuk

Gary Dell’Abate, seen here speaking before the Representative Town Meeting in 2011 over his initial nomination to the town’s Board of Parks and Recreation, will again be up for a vote after being renominated for a second term. —Ken Borsuk

Four years after doomsday predictions of humiliation and mockery for Greenwich never came close to reality, the Board of Selectmen has unanimously renominated Gary Dell’Abate to another term on the town’s Board of Parks and Recreation.

Mr. Dell’Abate, a longtime town resident, will now be considered by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for a second term on the board, and the selectmen said they hope the process will be free of the controversy that plagued it three years ago. At the time, several RTM members expressed great reluctance to approve Mr. Dell’Abate’s nomination because of his role as the producer of The Howard Stern Show, where he is known to fans around the world as “Baba Booey.”

Mr. Dell’Abate has been a coach and active sports parent in the town for years, but his connection to the controversial and popular show brought a spotlight to the nomination when it was first made in 2011. His nomination was not supported by the RTM’s Parks and Recreation Committee, with seven of the 12 then members voting against him. The criticism even led to a prank by an unidentified fan of the show who allegedly defaced the mailbox of RTM member Coline Jenkins, one of the biggest critics of the nomination.

Ultimately he was approved by the full body with a 119-64 vote, with strong backing from the selectmen and other community members overcoming reluctance from members who spoke out not against Mr. Dell’Abate’s merits but against the content of The Howard Stern Show.

Ultimately none of the concerns RTM members expressed at the time came to fruition and he had unanimous support from the selectmen for a second term.

“Three years ago when I approached Gary and asked him to volunteer his time, I remember discussing the possible publicity his nomination might receive because of his celebrity,” Selectman Drew Marzullo said. “While we expected some coverage, we did not expect or anticipate the chain of events that followed. Now we are three years removed from what I still call an unjustified, embarrassing attack by certain RTM members and RTM committees on someone looking to volunteer and do some good.”

Mr. Marzullo said he wanted to “put this chapter behind us” by having the RTM “overwhelmingly” approve Mr. Dell’Abate’s nomination this time. Mr. Marzullo criticized the thinking behind the reluctance of RTM members three years ago, questioning if they truly felt that putting Mr. Dell’Abate on the board would result in “lesbian strippers swinging from the chandeliers” in town, which he called “absurd.”

“He deserves renomination and deserves our support collectively,” Mr. Marzullo said. “He deeply cares about Greenwich. He’s accessible and he listens. He’s used his name recognition many times to help underprivileged children, people fighting HIV/AIDS and participates in numerous Greenwich fund-raisers and events. He has earned the respect of his fellow board members and the director himself and he advocates for important issues facing the parks board.”

First Selectman Peter Tesei said it was unfair to just focus on a radio persona.

“Gary Dell’Abate is a real person,” Mr. Tesei said. “He is a husband and a father and he’s no different than any other person who has a strong desire to be involved and better their community. I’ve been very impressed by his commitment and his desire to move improvements for the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center. We’ve been well served by him and he’s done a great job.”

If approved, this term for Mr. Dell’Abate would expire in March 2017.

 

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