Letter: Greater transparency needed

To the Editor:

I am disappointed that Mr. Herbst has already gone back on his first campaign promise reported on July 23 to be transparent and to release his cell phone record details. He had one of our Town Attorneys, Ed Walsh, report to me recently that my FOIA request submitted last Thursday, Aug. 15 was inappropriate and in need of correction.

The public has a right to know how he spends his time. Indeed, as I’ve pointed out, Herbst’s representative submitted such a request for his predecessor’s cell phone records in December, 2008 and was given the records promptly. I certainly did not ask for personal cell phone records if they were not paid for by the Town.

The only personal attacks being made in this campaign are those made by Herbst against me, for example, in the Connecticut Post article dated Aug. 22 where he disparages my work as an attorney and stated, “It is unfortunate that as an attorney, Mrs. Mark doesn’t understand the plain language of the Connecticut General Statutes.” I take such a swipe at my livelihood as a sure sign that he knows that my positions and my voting record are strong and that his defense is weak.

I have no political vendetta. I see our tax dollars being wasted, and I intend to correct that with smarter spending as First Selectman, as reflected in my actual Town Council voting record and research I've put into reviewing eight annual budgets since 2005, and my attempts to reduce certain line items in our budgets.

Whatever our ranks by Coldwell Banker, or as one of the most transparent municipal websites, by whichever organization Herbst claims, or even by Family Circle Magazine's ranking as the 7th best town for families in the USA in its August 2011 issue, for which I was the person interviewed and quoted, I see our town as it is financially, in detail, from having my eight years of experience as a Town Council Representative who has faithfully analyzed our budgets and finances and voted appropriately, leaving in place a record of which I am very proud.

Finally, I’ll conclude in addressing these matters raised by Herbst by stating that I find it alarming that Herbst is hiding behind the Town Attorney by not making public the records which he agreed to do July 23 and that he is having the Town Attorney do his bidding rather than protecting the interests of the citizens of Trumbull and their right to this information.  My request was purposefully broad so that Herbst would have to comply with disclosing the requested records which our Town does keep.  The Town Attorney is not the judge of whether the FOIA request is invalid; that is a matter left up to the State of Connecticut's FOI Commission.  Herbst is obligated to comply with my request on behalf of the public's right to know this information.  If elected, I pledge to manage our government with greater transparency than this.

Martha Jankovic-Mark, candidate for First Selectman