Herbst: Morin letter is factually inaccurate and misleading

To the Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the recent letter to the editor from Tyler Morin, a student at Ohio State University who is currently working on his senior thesis. First, I commend Tyler for using his hometown as a case study. It is unfortunate however that a week before a local election he chose to write a letter that was intentionally misleading.

On Aug. 27, 2015, Mr. Morin submitted his request for information to the Town of Trumbull. The information he requested went back fifteen years.  As expected, not all of the requested information was in electronic format. Many of the documents he requested were in storage. To make these documents electronic, Town employees would have to manually scan 15 years of documents. This takes town employees away from performing their daily job responsibilities.

On Sept. 17, 2015, Finance Director Maria Pires responded to Mr. Morin’s request for information. Included in her response were eight Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that contained much of the information he requested. Ms. Pires spent many hours after work and into the evening trying to comply with Mr. Morin’s request. The information provided included a history of the Town’s General Fund balance and budget information going back to 2002.  In her response, the Finance Director indicated the time consuming and laborious process that would have to be undertaken to manually copy fifteen years of documents. I should point out that in my six years as First Selectman, we have never received a request for information that was this broad and encompassing.

At the same time of Mr. Morin’s request, the Town Attorney and various Town department heads have been inundated with multiple freedom of information requests from members of the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee. As has been standard practice, these requests usually are sent 60 days before an election and it is not by coincidence. In light of certain legal and statutory obligations that are expected of government agencies, the Town attorney and various department heads have spent countless hours of time and manpower responding to these requests to ensure legal compliance.

These politically motivated, redundant and ridiculous requests are time consuming and have represented additional costs to the Town of Trumbull. What I find very hypocritical is that the very same people who complain about legal costs incurred by the Town are engaging in childish political nonsense that is costing the Town and its taxpayers additional costs. These requests are purely designed to vex, harass and intimidate Town employees with the political intent of bringing the operation of government to a screeching halt.

I would encourage Mr. Morin to do what I did when I wrote my senior thesis as an undergraduate at Trinity College. On his Thanksgiving break, I encourage him to come to Town Hall in person to go through these documents and conduct his research.
Timothy M. Herbst
First Selectman, Town of Trumbull