Letter: Town Council Democrats discuss first meeting of 2016
To the Editor:
As the Minority Party, we will make an effort to share our opinions of the monthly Town Council meetings. Please know that we have all of the citizens in mind, but we do not have the votes to make a difference. We feel by sharing this information it is providing a more transparent government.
Here are some major items that were on the agenda for the Jan. 4 meeting:
A Town Council representative from District 2 was appointed by the Republican caucus. Attorney Richard Kacsak was chosen to fill the position left open by councilman-elect McGowan’s resignation. While the Republican caucus had the right to appoint Mr. Kascak (they sought opinion form Secretary of the State), they did not give the voters the right to choose, or at the very least honor the wishes of the voters by selecting the slated candidate with the next highest vote total — which, in this case, was former councilwoman, Cindy Penkoff.
In the absence of a special election, which we agree would be impracticable, the Democratic caucus, if faced with a similar situation, would have seated the candidate with the next highest vote total.
To do otherwise, smacks of party gamesmanship and sets a precedent that taints the legitimacy of the electoral process. What is to stop a party from running a popular or highly-electable candidate, only to have that person resign before taking the oath of office, thereby leaving the party free to fill vacancies with whomever they choose without affording the voting public the right to determine the merit of the person’s candidacy?
The second item discussed was a resolution pertaining to matters related to the dissolution of the Trumbull Monroe Health District.
The resolution was discussed at length in executive session. A document was provided under seal to members of one committee the week prior and distributed to the full council on the night of the meeting (and only then at our request). Notwithstanding that there is a pending audit of the Health District’s operations that has a direct bearing on the matters underlying the resolution, and the fact that the full council lacked sufficient information to make an informed vote, the matter was nevertheless rushed through to a vote, where it was passed by the Republican majority. The Democratic caucus feels that many questions about the health district, the reasons for its dissolution and the disposition of its property and assets still remain unanswered
As this was the first meeting of the year, there were many appointments and reappointments of volunteers to Town Boards and Commissions. As the minority party, we were quite disappointed in not seeing our nominees selected.
Minority leader Mary Beth Thornton, had requested a meeting with First Selectman Herbst on Nov. 20. And, to date, the First Selectman has not met with her to discuss our candidates.
Prior to the meeting, Mrs. Tesoro had a private meeting with Mr. Herbst, during which he promised Mrs. Tesoro the open seat as an alternate on the Board of Finance. Although the Council’s agenda did include a resolution to this effect, prior to the meeting, the Republicans amended the agenda to include an identical resolution, to be introduced immediately prior to Mrs. Tesoro’s resolution, appointing Ted Chase, an unaffiliated voter, to the seat instead.
After the Republican majority passed the new resolution, the resolution appointing Mrs. Tesoro was rendered moot, a fact made painfully clear by Chairman Massaro much to the chagrin of Mrs. Tesoro and her husband who were in attendance.
Adding to the insult was Mr. Herbst’s refusal to face Mrs. Tesoro during this this indignity, as he bid a hasty exit from the meeting immediately prior to the chain of events.
In an unfortunately unsurprising turn of events following the meeting, Mr. Chase formally changed his party affiliation to Republican on Jan. 6.
As the Minority Town Council members it is our job to represent the 5,500 people that did not vote for the current administration. We will try over the next two years to provide all the citizens of Trumbull with transparency and our summary of the Town Council meetings, as well as the issues facing Trumbull.
We also suggest you watch the Trumbull Community television to form your own opinion. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Council Representative for any clarifications.
Mary Beth Thornton, Tom Whitmoyer, Lisa Valenti, Dawn Cantafio, Bill Mecca, and Jason Marsh
Town Council Democrats