Letter: Lack of transparency in replacing board alternate

To the Editor:

When Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst was running for office, we were promised that his administration would embrace transparency, openness and fairness. The unfortunate reality, however, is that important matters of government and representation of the people continue to happen in secret and not in a fair manner.

Recently, the alternate seat on the Board of Finance held by Edward Murphy was vacated. Members of the Board of Finance were not informed of this vacancy, and no public announcement was made. That also happened when David Rutigliano resigned from the Board of Finance last November, and neither a public announcement nor a notification to other members of the Board of Finance was made. By public announcement, I mean notification to the board, the parties, the media, or a posting on the town website. Trumbull Democrats had to go to court in order to schedule a Special Election to allow the voters of Trumbull to decide who would represent them on the Board of Finance. On July 22, Trumbull elected Democrat Lainie McHugh to the Board of Finance.

Trumbull Democrats will soon propose an ordinance at the Town Council to require the Town Clerk to notify the local media and both major political parties when any elected or appointed member of a Board or Commission resigns or the position becomes vacant. Additionally, the vacancy should be posted on the Town website. Letting people know when there is a vacancy or someone resigns is actual transparency and it should happen regardless of what party controls town government. This is common sense legislation, and we hope that it will receive bipartisan support and it will result in better government going forward.

Beyond this, we believe that the appointment of alternates on the Board of Finance should reflect the composition of the Board as elected by the people of Trumbull. Trumbull has elected three Republicans and three Democrats to the Board of Finance. Yet the Herbst administration has refused to appoint a single Democratic alternate to the Board of Finance. Now there is a resolution on the agenda for the September 4 Town Council meeting to appoint Bill Haberlin, a Republican, as an alternate to replace Mr. Murphy. This would mean the Board of Finance has two Republican alternates and one unaffiliated alternate, and if a Democrat misses a meeting, there is no Democratic alternate. We believe fairness dictates that there should be one Republican, one Democrat, and one unaffiliated alternate. Therefore, we will propose to amend the motion to confirm Jon Greene as the new alternate to the Board of Finance. Mr. Greene has been an active local resident who has attended many town meetings and is well informed about the Trumbull budget. Once again, we hope this motion receives bipartisan support as a simple matter of fairness. We believe that the voters of Trumbull agree with our position on this.

Common sense and fairness should trump partisan politics every time.

Tom Kelly,

chairman Trumbull

Democratic Town Committee