An auctioneer's performance two weeks ago at a Northampton borough-sponsored event has drawn sharp criticism from the mayor and a member of council.
"I'd put him in a Sputnik and send him into space," said Northampton Mayor Thomas Reenock at Thursday night's council meeting as he was relaying some of the complaints he received about Harry Bushspies' handling of the borough's annual auction on Nov. 3. "I don' want to criticize him as an individual, but as an auctioneer, he stinks!"
Council member Anthony Losonzski Sr. tossed several barbs at Bushspies, who was never mentioned by name at the meeting. He also encouraged the mayor and the solicitor to draft a letter to Bushspies expressing disgust with his performance.
Losonzski said from the mayor's description, Bushspies made it look to the 300 people at the auction that the borough was being run by bumpkins. "Did they expect to see us dressed in bib overalls with a hankie in the pocket?" he asked sarcastically.
Bushspies sounded very surprised at the criticism when he spoke with WFMZ.com Friday morning, and insisted he behaved professionally and followed the order of sale he had advertised.
"I wish I was at that meeting last night," he said. "I don't know where those guys are coming from."
Bushspies, who also ran the auction sale in Northampton in 2010, said he intends to confront his critics at council's Dec. 6 meeting.
Bushspies defended spending the first three or four hours of the auction in the basement of the municipal building selling goods from private consigners -- including VHS tapes, old china, furniture and sports memorabilia -- and waiting until well after noon to come outside to start on the municipal vehicles and equipment and unclaimed bicycles.
"Everyone there knew the order of the sale," Bushspies said. "Of course, some people are going to complain. They want what they're after on the block so they can get their items and get out of there."
Bushspies said he recalled one woman giving him a hard time and complaining about the way the auction was being run. "I told her to relax, calm down, please be patient," Bushpies said.
Bushspies flatly denied Reenock's claim that he cursed at the crowd -- "I never curse," he said -- and he disputed the mayor's contention that he spent more time and care on selling private merchandise. He said he did "due diligence" in assuring all consigners, public and private, were represented.
He called the 35 municipal vehicles he auctioned off "my bread and butter," and noted, "I got good money for those vehicles."
Losonzski said he found it objectionable that Bushspies was allowed to sell public and private goods at the auction. "You don't couple two ducks together and sell it as a goose," he cracked.
Bushpies said he includes goods from private consigners in such auctions "because you have to generate a certain dollar amount to [cover] your costs. ... I had 35 vehicles to sell during the auction. I have to figure out, 'What am I going to do with the rest of my time?' "
Losonzski again brought up the auction as council was wrapping up its meeting, and that prompted council member Robert Coleman to say with a smile, "Now that you've given [Bushspies] all of this publicity, he might get his own TV show."