Last week, the first selectman asserted I have been unresponsive to her “reaching out” to me in an effort to appoint someone to the Ethics Commission seat which term had expired in December 2017.
The facts are straight forward- she never personally contacted me in advance of her two nominees appearing on the Town Council agendas for January 2018 and in January/February 2019. In fact, one nominee called me in advance of that January 2018 meeting and another potential nominee called months later. Thereafter, the first selectman and I had a conversation after a Council meeting in which she stated she wanted to give other people in town a chance to serve. I questioned that explanation because both nominees had served the town previously, one on the Ethics Commission, and the other in multiple capacities over the years. I indicated the preference of having William Brown re-appointed. His credentials and service have been well chronicled and duly honored. There should be no surprise to the first selectman or anyone else, that her latest nominee would not be supported. the first selectman made no effort to gain our support. Frankly, the partisan act she and her Democrat supporters have put forth comes as no surprise to me.
Following adjournment of the February meeting, the first selectman responded to some members of the Republican caucus that she did not consider re-appointing William Brown because he did not ask her for re-appointment. I had to remind her that Mr. Brown did not seek re-appointment because she had sent him a letter stating she would not do so. She never had any intention of offering him a new term, despite his superior qualifications and despite the first selectman stating “he served admirably”.
What does surprise me, is the first selectman’s dismissal of financial contributions as a potential disqualifier for service as an ethics commissioner. She called the potential for impartiality “nonsense”. I suggest she re-read the Trumbull Code of Ethics or consult Professor Gadkar -Wilcox on the subject.
All should know and understand that this Ethics Commission seat is the only Council appointment the Republican caucus has not supported. We have voted approval for every other board, commission and committee nominee put forth, regardless of party affiliation. Perhaps the first selectman has forgotten she and her Democrat caucus voted down the Reverend Sami Ball for an ethics seat a few years ago for no apparent reason and now applies a different standard to the few Republican votes that don’t go her way.
Though the Ethics Commission seldom meets, it serves as watchdog over the Town’s public officials enforcing a code of behavior designed to ensure our town’s governance is free of undue influence and acts within the bounds of the law. It is no office to take as a stepping stone for future political aspiration.
Our Ethics Commissioners must be independent analysts of the issues presented to them and leave no doubt as to the validity of their adjudications.
While I agree to disagree with the first selectman on the better approach to Ethics Commission selection. I am open to consultation with her on the next nominee before it appears on a Town Council agenda . That way, there will be no surprises and our town will be better served.
Carl Massaro (R-3rd), minority leader