Letter: Government should work for the people, not for itself

To the Editor:

As First Selectman Tim Herbst gears up for a probable run for Governor, many residents are tired of being his fallback plan.

Herbst has used the position of First Selectman as a launch pad for his political ambitions. He has governed using an aggressive, his way or the highway approach, ramming through major changes with little to no public discussion and sniping at opponents along the way.

A Connecticut Post article that ran in April 2015 summed it up perfectly, noting that “Turmoil follows Trumbull's first selectman wherever he goes, leaving a trail of bruised egos, lawsuits and a growing list of enemies.”

Meanwhile, the town suffers at the hands of Herbst and Republican leadership that prefers closed-door executive sessions to open public meetings, pointing fingers to accepting responsibility, and backpedaling to getting it right from the beginning.

It seems Herbst did not get the message in 2015 when he won reelection by under 400 votes following a failed bid to become State Treasurer. Instead of working to gain back support in Trumbull, he continued his brash approach to governing and set his sights on the Governor’s mansion.

This year is proving to be more of the same. A proposal to build a Senior Center has racked up a price tag approaching $15 million, now with potential additions of aquatic and veteran facilities, and town office space. All of this is happening with minimal input from citizens and a blatant refusal to put the issue on the ballot in 2017 for the town to vote on.

Herbst's plan to sell six town-owned properties was abruptly placed on the Planning and Zoning Commission's agenda without the proper notification to neighbors and open channels for discussion. These properties include The Nature Center; the VFW Hall; the Long Hill Administration Building; the Town Hall Annex; the Senior Center; and the Berkshire Garage. The first mention of the potential sale of these properties came through a town newsletter two days before a Planning and Zoning vote on the matter.

Herbst is also trying to fund a $1 million increase to the town transfer station’s budget by passing a tipping fee on garbage haulers, which in all likelihood will be passed to residents. This is simply a sly-move by Herbst to tout in the 2018 Gubernatorial race that despite state budget cuts, he did not raise Trumbull’s taxes.

Herbst may think this arrogant approach is working for him, but our First Selectman and Republican leadership has counted on a lack of interest and engagement at the local level as a means to push through their agenda. That stops now.

November's election demonstrated change starts right here at home. As Herbst decides his next steps, he should know that he now has a much bigger audience watching.

Keeping residents in the dark, placing blame on the state at every turn, and plowing ahead with reckless disregard for Trumbull citizens’ interests is unacceptable. Trumbull is ready for a government that works for its people, not for itself.