Letter — Administration places patronage over policy
The campaign season is over and January has brought us both a new year and a new administration. However, while the campaign may be over, it is vitally important that Trumbull residents continue to stay informed because it is our duty to hold elected officials to the campaign promises they made. For example, the theme of First Selectman Tesoro’s campaign was one word: Transparency. Why then are we going back to the days of backroom deals and political favors?
The Town Council recently entertained two resolutions put forward by First Selectman Tesoro that would repeal prior ordinances which eliminated conflicts of interest and double-dipping in town hall. The first ordinance was unanimously approved in November by every member of the previous Town Council, Republican and Democrat alike. The ordinance said that any person who was receiving a pension from the Town of Trumbull could not be re-hired by the town for a period longer than 90 days. The goal of this ordinance was to eliminate people from retiring and then being re-hired for the same position, a practice known as double-dipping. If allowed, the employee would be simultaneously collecting a pension and a salary from the Town of Trumbull. The Town Council unanimously supported this ordinance in November (including current Democrat council members: Thornton, Marsh, Cantafio, Whitmoyer, Valenti and Mecca) because it represents good policy. Allowing people to collect a pension and then come back to add service years is a financial detriment to the town. In the words of Democrat Chairman Tom Kelly, “How many Trumbull residents can say they get a deal like that?” In fact, the current town attorney admitted during the council subcommittee hearing that while he has been collecting a pension since 2009, he is two years away from maxing out his pension, which a repeal of this ordinance would allow him to do.
If that wasn’t enough, the Tesoro Administration also brought forward another resolution to repeal an ordinance that prohibits people who are collecting a pension from the town to serve on either the Pension Board or the Police Commission (which by Town Charter serves as our Police Pension Board). While it seems simple, ethical and transparent not to allow someone collecting a pension from sitting on the body that administers that pension, First Selectman Tesoro believes that there is no problem with this policy.
The only reason for repealing these ordinances is simple: First Selectman Tesoro promised jobs and appointments to political donors and supporters who under current Trumbull law cannot serve in those roles. So how do they deal with this issue? Easy! Just change the law!
If these individuals want to serve our town, there are plenty of boards and commissions that former town employees can be appointed to where we can get the value of experience without challenging our ethical boundaries. Regardless of party, this is bad policy. Unfortunately, the only thing “transparent” about the Tesoro Administration is that it clearly favors putting political patronage over good policy.