Letter: Tesoro's silence was deafening

To the Editor:

As I opened the Trumbull Times online edition last Wednesday morning (6/4/15), I was surprised to see the headline that one of my colleagues on the Town Council, Vicki Tesoro, was planning to seek the Democratic nomination for First Selectman in this November’s election. The reason for my surprise was that at our June Town Council meeting, held a couple of days prior, the Town Council debated a proposed compensation plan for all elected and appointed officials in town.

Prior to discussing the resolution, I addressed the body to express my concern that given that we are in an election year, any member of the council, Democrat or Republican, who wishes to run for one of the elected positions addressed by the resolution, should recuse him or herself to avoid any conflict of interest. After making that statement, no member of the Town Council, of either party, expressed an intent or desire to seek any of the offices contained in the resolution, including First Selectman. In fact, the only reaction to my statement came from the Democrats sitting in the gallery of the council chambers who apparently already knew what the rest of us would all later learn in the Trumbull Times article: that Vicki Tesoro was planning to run for First Selectman.

I am surprised and confused as to why Ms. Tesoro said nothing of her intentions on the council floor. There is no mechanism available to force a member of the Town Council to recuse themselves from a discussion, however given that she declared her intention to seek the nomination for First Selectman less than forty-eight hours following the discussion, Trumbull residents watching on television should have been made aware that she was planning to run for First Selectman while discussing that position's salary. While her decision not to make her intentions known and recuse herself was not technically improper, it can only serve to raise a serious question of honesty. Rather than make the public aware of her intentions, Ms. Tesoro said nothing. All the more surprising and confusing, Ms. Tesoro took the opportunity to argue that there had been a lack of procedural transparency and fairness in handling the resolution. She argued against a party’s right to caucus and discuss agenda items, and then asked for a five-minute recess so that the Democrats could do just that: caucus together to discuss the resolution. Curiously, in all the time she spent arguing about a lack of transparency, she never thought to engage in transparency on her own part and announce to the rest of us what most of her friends in the audience, and her Democratic colleagues on the Council, already knew: that she was running for First Selectman.

Whether formally announced or not, it is clear that Ms. Tesoro is seeking the Democratic nomination for First Selectman. Unfortunately, in her first chance to show us the transparent government she claims to represent, she decided to say nothing. As a child I was always taught that actions speak louder than words. As a Council member, who holds a position of public trust, I know that our actions speak volumes. In this case, particularly coupled with her arguments for transparency and fairness, Ms. Tesoro’s silence was deafening.

Rick Costantini
Majority Leader Town Council