From My View
Transparency and communication. Two valuable concepts that many times are used in conversation but not in practice.
Let me explain the view from my seat over the past two years.
As the minority member of the Board of Selectmen, I knew it was going to be a different experience than the one I encountered when I joined the board. I was hopeful that communication would be open and clear, and we could all work together for the best interest of our community. While there have been many discussions, issues and appointments that have been unanimously approved and agreed to, there are several others that raise reason for concern.
The most recent was the special meeting called to approve the contract to sell a portion of the South Park Avenue property to Aspetuck Land Trust. The short version of the story is the meeting was called the day before the deadline for ALT to accept a state grant to cover part of the purchase price. This meeting was three days after the Town Meeting and five days before the referendum vote on the proposed Land Use Ordinance, which would have a direct impact on this type of sale. I found out about this deadline and contract at the Town Meeting. The people in town found out about the contract the day before the special Board of Selectmen meeting. Please read my more detailed account of that meeting, including a timeline leading up to it. You can also watch the recording of the meeting.
The last-minute scramble on that contract is not an isolated incident. The Board of Selectmen made changes to both the Land Use Ordinance and Ethics Ordinance during the meeting in which the board set the agenda and called the special Town Meeting. Luckily, the proponents of those ordinances were available that night to participate in those 11th-hour negotiations. We had several meetings leading up to that one where changes could have been presented and discussed. But they weren’t.
Currently, there’s a lot of talk about a new EMS building. Only few people actually know what’s going on there, the possibilities or the progress.
Other instances that come to mind include the calling of a public hearing on joining the Westport Weston Health District for a weekday morning with very little notice and the passing of a race resolution on the night it was presented as a draft.
When I look at these examples, I do not see transparency. Or clear communication. I can’t speak to the reasons behind the actions and won’t speculate.
I share this information because I truly believe that facts matter. I come from the world of journalism. My pledge to you is to continue to follow my reporter’s instinct, to ask the questions and share what I learn. My hope is that it won’t be necessary because the information will be available through transparent, clear communication.