Trumbull Town Council member’s ethics hearing delayed again
TRUMBULL — An ethics complaint against a Town Council member who called a volunteer mapmaker “a hack” and “no good for the town” will drag into a fifth month after the Ethics Commission voted to postpone the hearing again.
The hearing into the comments made by Tony Scinto, R-2nd District, had originally been scheduled for Aug. 17 but was delayed when commissioners learned a software glitch had prevented Scinto from receiving email regarding his case.
As a result, the hearing was moved to Oct. 5.
But earlier this week, commissioners learned that date conflicted with a Town Council meeting, and decided to postpone again, this time until early November.
“Personally, I think it would be improper to have our meeting and expect him to regroup but yet do his duty on the town council,” said ethics committee Chairman Thomas Lee.
Lee added that a benefit of the delay is the possibility that by then, the commission could have an in-person hearing, rather than conducting business via Zoom.
Charles White, the resident who Scinto directed his comments toward, agreed to the delay, but pointed out the commission’s preference for an in-person hearing seemed to be causing the proceeding to drag and each delay added to his time commitment.
“The Town Council passed a budget by Zoom,” he said. “The Board of Education set its budget by Zoom, and the meeting my complaint is about was held by Zoom. Every time this is postponed, I feel the obligation to prepare.”
Commissioners briefly considered convening a meeting in late October to discuss whether to go forward with an in-person hearing or to schedule a Zoom conference. But that idea was scrapped in the interest of giving White and Scinto some certainty about the timetable. The panel settled on a new date of Nov. 17.
White, in his ethics complaint, said Scinto had violated Section 2-524 and 2-526 in the town’s Code of Ethics. Specifically, White said, Scinto had failed to discharge his duties conscientiously and impartially, and he had failed to treat a member of the public with tact and courtesy during a May 9 meeting of the town’s Redistricting Committee.
The committee was investigating ways to redraw Trumbull’s voting map into seven equal districts. The 21-member Town Council currently is split into four districts with District 4 having six council members and the other three having five each.
At the meeting, the committee was discussing a population map that White, a Geographic Information System professional with 27 years experience and a member of the town’s Land Acquisition Committee, had prepared using U.S. Census data. Scinto had stated his opinion that the map was flawed.
“Listen, I could really get into this map, and really cause a lot of trouble because this map is atrocious,” he said during the May 9 meeting.
Fellow committee member Tom Kelly objected to Scinto’s characterization, saying the map had been prepared by “highly skilled people” using scientific data.
“Since you opened the door about skill, let’s talk about the person who drew this map,” Scinto said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for payback on this one.”
Scinto then held up a different map, which White said appeared to be a draft of a FEMA flood detail map that White had drawn in 2010 and distributed to various town offices. Scinto said the map showed the Pequonnock River “next to my house” and claimed the map had put him under scrutiny from his insurance provider.
“This guy’s no good for the town. He’s a hack. He’s nothing but a hack. I’ve had enough of this guy,” Scinto said.
According to the online Trumbull GIS map, Scinto’s house sits in a Flood Hazard Zone, and is about 20 feet from the edge of the Pequonnock’s high-risk AE Zone, which FEMA defines has having at least a 25 percent risk of flooding during a typical 30-year mortgage.
White said the flood data was updated in 2010 and insurance agents had checked in with homeowners as a matter of routine. The data that he used to compile the map was based on official sources, he said.