Letter — Partisanship, unprofessionalism on display at Town Council meeting

Editor’s Note – This letter was signed by Town Council Minority Leader Carl Massaro on behalf of the council’s Republicans.

This month’s Town Council meeting was an example of the worst partisanship and unprofessional conduct yet displayed by members of the Tesoro administration.

The First Selectman put forward a candidate for the Ethics commission whose professional background suits the commission. However, the preference of the council Republicans is to appoint members to the Commission who are separated from political influence.

This same nominee was a candidate for local and the state level and aspires to run again in the near future. This nominee has a long list of financial contributors to her campaign, including the First Selectman, her family and her staff, the Democrat Committee Chairman Kelly, Democrat Town Council Members, Thornton, Cantafio, Gaudiano, Marsh and many others who serve in various elected and appointed positions in our town.

Disregarding a potential for conflicts of interest and impropriety, the Democrat caucus voted in block for the appointment of their colleague. Many on the Republican caucus expressed gratitude for this candidate’s desire to serve, but explained their reservations given the personal and financial connection to so many on the Democrat caucus and local Democrat party for appointment to this seat.

The Ethics commission currently is comprised of seven members who have no history of seeking elective office and, therefore, are better suited for hearing the complaints against public officials. Given that the Ethics commission hears matters involving our town elected and appointed members, the Republican caucus very politely expressed the specific concerns and clearly explained why we could not support this nominee for this role. The same Republican caucus voted just one month prior to seat another Democrat, notwithstanding party affiliation, onto the same commission without the same political aspirations.

Currently, this seat is occupied by Attorney Bill Brown who has served as a military judge and is now Director of Anti-Corruption and Investigations for a major defense contractor. Attorney Brown is unaffiliated and has no aspirations to run for political office.

The disappointment of the failed vote was apparently too much for many Democrats present. The Chairwoman and other council members were out of order and behaved in an embarrassing fashion during the meeting.

Thereafter, two Republican Council members were accosted outside Town Hall with expletives hurled at them for their vote.

We have all been disappointed with the outcome of a vote but have engaged in respectful discourse. This disdain and behavior during and following a meeting is unacceptable. Was this the civility and transparency this administration seeks? This party line vote could have only represented only a difference in opinion, but instead based on the reactions and behavior seems to have been an attempt to replace a highly qualified non-political unaffiliated member of the commission with a political appointee. It is unfortunate the nominee got caught in the middle.

The town is better served when all appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest is minimized in the selection of Ethics Commission membership.

Carl Massaro, R-3rd

Minority Leader