Letter: Council actions Monday night prove town politics haven’t changed
To the Editor:
Trumbull's hope that the current political environment of incivility, secrecy and disrespect for dedicated volunteers would change after the last election was laid to rest in an untimely and undignified manner by the Town Council on Monday. A resolution naming Vicki Tesoro to a position as an alternate to the Board of Finance was not even voted on by the Republican-controlled Town Council.
Vicki is a long-time community volunteer, founder of the underage drinking forum at the high school, four-year Town Council member and leader, and most recently a candidate for First Selectman who received 49% of the vote, but a Democrat.
The Council did pass a resolution appointing someone, and it named — no one. It was blank, with the name filled in at the meeting so that no member of the public or the press, or anyone other than insiders, had any idea who the nominee would be before the council meeting.
Vicki didn't even get a vote before the council amended the blank resolution and voted to add a second unaffiliated alternate to the Board of Finance.
This means there are no Democratic alternates to fill in should one of the full members be unable to attend a meeting due to illness or emergency. The current administration has never allowed a Democratic alternate to be seated.
This means that Vicki, whom almost half of the Town supported just two months ago, was denied an opportunity to continue her service to the town.
Not that this matters. The Republicans already held four of the six seats on the Board and appointed two of the three alternates. The position was just for an alternate, not a full voting member, so there was no danger of Vicki having a significant voice anyway. It would have cost them nothing to appoint Vicki, or at the very least to have allowed the public to know whom they planned to appoint.
What it would have done is provide some proof of a commitment, however small, to the ideals of civility, transparency, and respect for the opposition that Mr. Herbst has trumpeted since the last — very close — election. It would have shown that the party in complete control recognizes that others may have good ideas and talents that would assist our town and should have the opportunity to use them, especially those with proven commitment and experience.
Instead, the vote shows that the current administration's tradition of keeping the public in the dark and marginalizing even long-term, well-respected and competent volunteers is alive and well.
Can the Republican Town Council fix this?
Yes, at least partially.
They can recall the vote and have a debate in full view of the public. They can publish an agenda with the names of the candidates for the alternate seat. They can allow the public to come and speak on the issue during the public comment phase of the meeting. They can have an actual debate instead of a secret, preordained decision.
Ideally, they can vote for the candidate with the most experience, dedication, and town support, and someone who will come to the table with alternate ideas. They have the votes and the result may be the same.
But at the very least, the business of the people should be done in full view of the people, not in private meetings with blank resolutions.