Voters Approve Town and School Budgets

Reject Resolution on Racism and Public Health

Town Clerk Christine Halloran today released the official results of the May 4 referendum. The polling went well and more voters turned out for the referendum than was typical in recent years, she said.

Last year, an executive order by Gov. Ned Lamont to keep people safe during the height of the pandemic prevented the referendum vote from occurring. Instead, the Board of Finance set the 2020-21 budget.

Halloran said that more than 2,000 voters — 36% — turned out at the polls on May 4. For the last seven years or so, budget referendums typically brought out 800 voters at most, she said, or roughly 14% of registered voters or fewer.

Voters approved municipal and school spending for 2021-22 by a vote of 1,310 to 713. They approved the Region 9 budget for Joel Barlow High School, which Easton shares with Redding, 1,313 to 715, and they declined to support a Resolution on Racism and Public Health by a vote of 761 to 1,259.

Easton has 5,575 registered voters. The breakdown of voters according to political parties is as follows:

  • Democrats: 1,611 
  • Republicans: 1,597 
  • Unaffiliated: 2,287 
  • Other Parties: 80

Following are the poll questions and official results, including Redding’s tally on the Region 9 budget.

1. Shall the Town of Easton appropriate the sum of $46,249,385 for the annual budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022?  (This includes Easton’s share of the Region No. 9 budget.)

YES:  1,310        NO:  713
PASSED.

2. Shall the Regional School District No. 9, composed of the Towns of Easton and Redding, appropriate and authorize the expenditure of $24,595,254 as the operating budget of the district for the period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022? (Easton’s share is $11,921,320 and Redding’s share is $12,673,934)

Easton       YES:    1,313   NO:  715
Redding     YES:   837     NO: 282
Passed overall by 1,153 Votes.

3. Shall the Town of Easton approve the Easton Resolution on Racism and Public Health?

YES:   761       NO:  1,259
DEFEATED.

You can read more about the 2021-22 budget at the link below:

Proposed 2021-22 Budget Heads to Annual Town Meeting

You can read more about the Easton Resolution on Racism and Public Health at the links below:

The Connecticut Health Divide: How Racism Contributes

Op-Ed: Easton Resolution on Race in Public Health

Officials React to Polling Results

First Selectman David Bindelglass said that with the May 4 referendum “the town has concluded the business of the annual town meeting. 

“The Town Meeting is the legislative body of our town, so public debate and excellent turnout at our referendums indicates that our  form of government which we all cherish is working,” Bindelglass said. “I am very pleased with the approval of the town budget. I realize the increase is more than we are generally used to, but the people of Easton realized the value that would come to the town from these increases.”

Bindelglass said that on the town side, the major increase was adding to the staff of the Department of Public Works  to continue to improve the department’s service to the town. The Board of Education was able to return vital staff and programs to the students as they recover from a difficult year of the pandemic, he said. 

“Finally, I believe there was an understanding of the need to absorb our proportional increase of the Region 9 budget as we gain a greater percentage of the students at Joel Barlow. The budgets were accepted by a wide margin, and I am grateful for that.”

As for the question of  adopting the resolution on race as a public health issue, Bindelglass said he was disappointed. “As you may remember, this was a lengthy and complex resolution initially adopted unanimously by the Board of Selectmen in the wake of the George Floyd killing,” he said. “A number of months later my colleague Kristi Sogofsky asked the BOS to consider rescinding the board’s resolution and putting it to the town meeting for approval. We voted again unanimously to do this. The vote was put off to the annual Town Meeting because other business was more time dependent.”

As first selectman, Bindelglass said it was his job to organize the Town Meeting and present the resolutions.  “Although there was a lot of spirited  discussion about this resolution, I have to admit I did a poor job of communicating what was actually being considered,” he said. “The resolution was available to be read. It was lengthy, and  from conversations I had at the polls, it was clear to me that  many people still did not understand what the resolution said, or even what we were actually voting on. I consider that to be my fault. I apologize for not doing a better job of presenting it. The resolution was not adopted as per the decision of the Town Meeting via referendum.”

That being said, Bindelglass said he thinks he and others learned a lot from the discussions they had with each other. He said it seemed to him that everything he heard or read from people demonstrated agreement with the fact that there were definite differences in the health of different groups of  the population, and  that it should not be that way.

“How this affected Easton, and if we had any role or responsibility for dealing with these differences was, in my mind, the real subject of the debate,” he said. “The prevailing answer was that we did not. As my colleague Kristi suggested in the Courier, ‘This resolution does not apply to our community.’”  

Some of the issues Easton faces will be controversial going forward, Bindelglass said. “It remains my hope that we can continue to have honest and open debate as new issues arise. Given that we are our own legislative body, civil discourse is a necessity.”

Selectman Bob Lessler also said he was disappointed that the resolution on racism was defeated. “However, the people of Easton have spoken,” he said. Moving forward, he said he was pleased “a serious conversation about race has begun in our town. The issue of race in our society is too big to be ignored anywhere, and so, I am proud of our community for its willingness to engage on this difficult and fraught topic. Let’s continue the conversation.”

Selectman Kristi Sogofsky had this to say, “The turnout for this referendum shows that the community is thoroughly engaged in this issue. While everyone agrees that racism should not and will not be tolerated, the vote shows that the way in which this resolution was drafted did not meet the town’s needs. I fully support efforts to examine areas where we can make improvements and encourage community involvement in those efforts.”

Sogofsky said she was pleased to see such overwhelming support for the town and Region 9 budgets. “It shows a commitment to education and the importance of providing the necessary financial resources to support our kids, both of which are top priorities to me,” she said.




Board of Selectmen Meeting of April 1, 2021

Comments about the proposed multi-use path along Sport Hill Road and the results of the March 30th referendum dominated the discussion during the regular Board of Selectmen meeting on April 1st. Several people spoke during public comment in support of the pathway, the outcome of the vote and urged the Board of Finance to approve funding for the project. Several others expressed continued concern and urged further review of the plan and alternatives options.

The referendum ballot included an advisory question about whether the town should allocate $249,400 to cover 20% of the project, with the other 80% coming from federal transportation funds administered through the state. The total project cost is set at $1,247,000. The final official results on the question were 708 in favor and 604 opposed, or 54% in favor to 46% opposed.

The selectmen agreed that they the would like to see the Board of Finance discuss and approve a special appropriation for the funds at the board’s meeting on April 6th. That would allow the special appropriation to be included on the agenda for the regular Town Meeting at the end of April. Should the Board of Finance recommend the special appropriation, the question would then need approval from the Town Meeting or another referendum before being finalized.

Selectman Bob Lessler acknowledged the desire to explore an alternative path through the woods but expressed concern about the amount of time that may take. He suggested that the Board of Finance allow both plans to proceed at the same time. That would mean recommending the special appropriation for the multi-use pathway in order to keep the process moving forward in recognition that the state needs to know whether the town will accept the grant. At the same time, conversations about the feasibility of the wooded path can continue.

Other Actions

The selectmen meetings also included the following:

  • Discussion about upcoming meetings to finalize the town’s entry into the Westport Weston Health District following approval in the referendum. The town will need to select a representative to serve on the health district board.
  • Appointment of Brian Williams to serve on the South Park Advisory Committee
  • Acceptance of the resignation of Shari Williams from the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The task force currently has two open seats and one open alternate position.

Watch the video of the meeting on the town website or on the Board of Selectmen Facebook page.

The next Board of Selectmen meeting is on April 22nd, which deviates from the standard schedule of the third Thursday of the month. The date is noted on the approved meeting schedule for 2021.




Referendum Results Confirmed; Pathway’s Future Still Uncertain

A larger than expected turnout among animated Easton voters produced two results that oddsmakers might well have missed. The first three measures were without any significant controversy and the margins in favor were wide.

The decision to join the Westport Weston Health District demonstrated a clear preference by a margin of 204 votes in favor. This result will mean the year-long trial period will now become a long-term commitment.

The hotly debated multi-use pathway also garnered a majority of 104 votes. The affirmative vote was advisory only, and the question was added to the referendum ballot by the Board of Selectmen after the Board of Finance voted 3-3 to deny the appropriation of $249,400 for the local match requirement of 20% of the total cost of the $1,247,000 project.

After the unofficial referendum results were released Tuesday evening, Selectman Bob Lessler said, “Now what is left to do is for the Board of Finance to honor the voice of the people by quickly voting to authorize a special appropriation.”

In a letter submitted to the Courier, Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Raymond Martin also interpreted the referendum results as a decisive statement of support from Easton voters, and urged the Board of Finance to expedite approval of the funds. “To all BOF members,” Martin wrote, “please vote with the will of people. Vote to fund the Town’s share of this much needed project.”

Board of Finance Chairman Andrew Kachele—who cast the deciding vote to deny the proposal—did not immediately indicate that the referendum results would cause him to change his position on the pathway project. “The vote on the sidewalk showed a divided electorate after what was probably the nastiest campaign I have seen in all my time in office,” said Kachele. “I still feel no final decision should be made until a proper investigation of alternatives is put before the public.” Kachele added that he will be “meeting with the Lands Committee that controls the watershed property next week as a first step.”

It is unclear if any further delay will negate the current offer from the state to contribute $997,600 (or 80%) of the total cost to build the pathway.

The official tally was completed and announced at 5:34 p.m. and is included below.

1. Shall the Town of Easton appropriate the sum of $49,770 for the purchase of body and dash cam cameras for the Easton Police Department as mandated by state law?

YES:  1131             NO:  183  

______________________________________________________________

2. Shall the Town of Easton approve an ordinance revision increasing the stipend for our volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Medical Service volunteers?

YES:  1137             NO:  173    

______________________________________________________________

3. Shall the Town of Easton approve the Tax Relief for the Elderly Ordinance as recommended by the 2021 Senior Tax Relief for the Elderly Committee?

     YES:  1104             NO:  207  

 ______________________________________________________________

4. Shall the Town of Easton join the Westport Weston Health District?

YES:  755             NO:  551 

    _______________________________________________________________

5. As an advisory question, should the Town of Easton appropriate $249,400 for the local match requirement (20% of the total project cost of $1,247,000) for the costs associated with constructing a multi-use/pedestrian path along Sport Hill Road from the entrance of Helen Keller Middle School to the crosswalk at Silverman’s Farm pursuant to the Town’s      “transportation alternatives set-aside” application submitted to the Connecticut Department of Transportation on August 29, 2019?

     YES:  708              NO: 604 




Easton Voters Support Pathway, Approve Joining Westport Weston Health District

Easton voters on Tuesday approved joining the Westport Weston Health District and voted in favor of appropriating $249,400 to construct a multi-use pathway along Sport Hill Road.

The proposals were among five referendum questions on the ballot, all of which were approved by voters, according to the unofficial results. The health district was approved by a 755 to 551 margin, and the pathway received 708 votes in favor with 561 against.

The remaining three questions to approve police body and dash cameras, increase stipends for Firefighters and EMS volunteers, and approve the Tax Relief for the Elderly Ordinance, were all approved by wide margins.

The pathway vote is advisory only and therefore will not determine the outcome; the Board of Finance has already voted 3-3 to deny the appropriation. Whether this majority vote in favor of the pathway will lead to a reversal of the board’s decision remains to be seen.

“While I am pleased with all the results the real winner is the Town,” said First Selectman David Bindelglass. “The level of involvement in the discussions before the vote and the huge turnout speaks volumes about how we are becoming a more engaged town, educated and thoughtful about the issues we face. I am very proud.”

Selectmen Kristi Sogofsky and Bob Lessler also remarked on the excellent voter engagement and support for the five ballot questions.

“The turnout for this referendum was remarkable,” said Sogofsky. “I’m grateful that so many people took the time out of their day to cast a ballot. The voters showed their support for all five items, which will help shape the future of our town.”

“Today, there was a tremendous voter turnout,” said Lessler. “I am so proud of our community for paying careful attention to the debate and for showing up in huge numbers to vote. All five questions passed. Now what is left to do is for the Board of Finance to honor the voice of the people by quickly voting to authorize a special appropriation.”

The referendum questions are reprinted below with the unofficial results included under each question.

1.         Shall the Town of Easton appropriate the sum of $49,770 for the purchase of body and dash cam cameras for the Easton Police Department as mandated by state law?

YES: 1,131

NO: 183

2.         Shall the Town of Easton approve an ordinance revision increasing the stipend for our volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Medical Service volunteers?

YES: 1,127

NO: 173

3.         Shall the Town of Easton approve the Tax Relief for the Elderly Ordinance as recommended by the 2021 Senior Tax Relief for the Elderly Committee?

YES: 1,104

NO: 207

4.         Shall the Town of Easton join the Westport Weston Health District?

YES: 755

NO: 551

5.         As an advisory question, should the Town of Easton appropriate $249,400 for the local match requirement (20% of the total project cost of $1,247,000) for the costs associated with constructing a multi-use/pedestrian path along Sport Hill Road from the entrance of Helen Keller Middle School to the crosswalk at Silverman’s Farm pursuant to the Town’s “transportation alternatives set-aside” application submitted to the Connecticut Department of Transportation on August 29, 2019?         

YES: 708

NO: 561

Official results will be posted when they are confirmed.




Board of Selectmen Sets Agenda Items for Special Town Meeting, Rescinds Resolution on Racism

The Board of Selectmen approved five items to be included on the agenda for the upcoming special Town Meeting. The meeting will be held in person on Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Samuel Staples Elementary School cafetorium.

Attendance will be limited based on restrictions set by the state in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. Town residents will also be able to watch the meeting live on Government Channel 79 and streaming online. First Selectman David Bindelglass asks members of the community who do not wish to speak at the meeting to please watch from home in order to allow all those who want to speak a chance to attend in person.

The board had considered holding the meeting virtually or a hybrid format. Based on experiences of other communities with similar virtual meetings and the increase in state gathering limits, the selectmen decided the best option is to hold the meeting in person. All items on the agenda will be adjourned to machine vote to be held on Tuesday, March 30. Items to be included on the special Town Meeting agenda are:

  • Shall the Town of Easton approve the Tax Relief for the Elderly Ordinance as recommended by the 2021 Tax Relief for the Elderly Committee?
  • Shall the Town of Easton appropriate the sum of $49,770 to purchase body and dash cameras for the Easton Police Department as mandated by state law?
  • Shall the Town of Easton approve an ordinance revision increasing the stipend for our volunteer fire fighters and EMS workers?
  • Shall the Town of Easton join the Westport Weston Health District? (Information and related videos)
  • As an advisory question, shall the Town of Easton recommend that the town allocate $249,400 to fund part of a multiuse walkway along Sport Hill Road, in addition to federal funding, as was vetted extensively at a design charrette in November 2019?

More information on these issues will be presented in the coming weeks, prior to the special Town Meeting.

Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis in Easton

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to rescind its resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in Easton, and will now allow voters to decide if the resolution is desired by the community.

The board initially approved the resolution at its meeting on August 20, 2020. You can read the resolution online in the minutes from that meeting.

Selectman Kristi Sogofsky moved to add the resolution to the agenda for the annual Town Meeting at the end of April. It will not be considered at the upcoming special Town Meeting in March because it does not have a budgetary impact.

Recording of Public Comment

The selectmen discussed how public comment is recorded in meeting minutes and in articles for the Courier written by Selectman Bob Lessler and Selectman Kristi Sogofsky. In terms of official meting minutes, the board decided that a person’s name and the specific topic they addressed will be the only information listed. Those interested in reviewing the full comments can watch videos of the meeting posted online. For meeting recaps provided to the Courier, public comment will either be left out or follow the standard set for meeting minutes.

Other Actions

Other actions taken at the Board of Selectmen meeting on March 4 include:

  • The board discussed beginning to reopen meetings to the public, possibly holding them in the Easton Library community room to allow for proper social distancing.
  • The board accepted the resignation of Lise Fleuette from the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
  • The board appointed Logan Shedd to serve on the Pension and Employee Benefits Commission with a term ending January 2, 2022.



Letter: Selectman Lessler’s Bias in Reporting Public Comment

To the Editor

In his summary of the Feb. 18 Board of Selectmen meeting published in the Easton Courier on Feb. 27, Attorney/Selectman Lessler took the liberty of paraphrasing my public comments. He submitted his version of my comments for publication without notifying me, without asking for a written copy, and without checking the video of the meeting.

Following suit, the Easton Courier published his submission without checking his accuracy. When Mr. Lessler was questioned about his paraphrasing in an email from Beverly Dacey, he responded by saying: “From my perspective, Sherry’s actual comments were far more problematic than conveyed in my write-up. At least, I believe I diluted the toxicity as much as possible while trying to stay true to the essence of the speaker’s point.”

I take Mr. Lessler’s response to mean that based on his own biased judgement, he deliberately changed what I said and then submitted his version to the press with my name. I don’t believe that my comments were problematic, and they certainly were not toxic. I stand by every single word that I say or write. If I think I have spoken or written in error or in an ill-advised manor, I can and will correct my own statement.

Mr. Lessler does not have the privilege of doing that for me and I am disappointed that the Easton Courier allowed him to do so without so much as a call to me or a check of the meeting video. Neither does Mr. Lessler have the right to “dilute” the meaning of my comments, and I do not accept that “dilution” was his goal. He is under no obligation to publish comments he deems to be “toxic.”

This is not the first time Mr. Lessler has taken the liberty of passing personal judgement on a citizen’s public comment. At the Jan. 7 BOS meeting, Attorney Lessler characterized public comments made by Anne Manusky as an “anti-Semitic trope.” When he wrote about that meeting for the Courier, while he did not use her name, he said the comments “included anti-Semitic references and dog whistles.”

Once again, this is Attorney/Selectman Lessler’s biased opinion. It has no place in an article intended to give factual information about a Board of Selectmen meeting. You can hear Mrs. Manusky’s comments by accessing the Jan. 7 BOS meeting at https://vimeo.com/showcase/easton-board-of-selectmen. Her comments begin at 53:42.

In my view Mr. Lessler’s actions are intended to intimidate those who speak from a different point of view. Easton voters who share my conservative point of view are weary of and becoming angry at the intimidation that has come from public officials, including Mr. Lessler, the Superintendent of Schools, school faculty, and others.

If you would like to hear my actual comments, you can do so by accessing the Feb. 18 BOS meeting at https://vimeo.com/showcase/easton-board-of-selectmen. My comments begin at 1:26:54. In the meantime, here is a comparison of portions of my actual comments versus Mr. Lessler’s “diluted” version.

• Attorney Lessler wrote, “She urged the board not to have a Zoom or hybrid Town Meeting.”
• I actually said, “Push back on the governor. Let him know that people are unhappy with this and keep the Zoom there because we have scared people to death. Keep the Zoom. Respect their fear, but for the rest of us push for opening.”

• Attorney Lessler wrote, “She says that as a Christian she never wants anyone to die, but George Floyd was a criminal.”
• I actually said, “I mourn, by the way, I’m a Christian. I mourn the loss of every life that goes to crime. When I see stories about people losing their lives to jail, to the death penalty, it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart, but Mr. George Floyd was a criminal, and instead of getting behind our police department, we got behind him… No one will say that. I will say it. I pray for him. I pray for his soul, but he was a criminal and we held a celebration for him, a rally for him with our police department across the street who were being told across the country Get Rid of You.”

There is a great deal more I could say about Attorney Lessler’s version of my comments, but I think that makes the point. I believe the Easton Courier’s practice of having Selectmen report on their own meetings is ill-advised. It is the duty of the press to act as a check on government, not to give elected officials a platform to frame events through the lens of their own biases. If the editors want the Courier to be considered as a serious news source, they would be far better served by finding unbiased and reliable reporters.

Sherry L. Harris
Citizen of Easton — 42 years
Member of the Region 9 Board of Education — 9 years
Chair of the 1980’s School Building Committee — 9 years
Member of the Republican Town Committee — 25 years




Body Cameras for the Easton Police Department

Plans are being made for the Easton Police Department to acquire body cameras in order to be in compliance with the state’s new police accountability law. The law requires each member of the department to wear a camera at all times while on duty. Department vehicles must also have dashboard cameras.

Chief Richard Doyle presented a proposal to the Board of Selectmen at the board’s last meeting.  The total cost is nearly $50,000. That would purchase 17 body cameras, one for each member of the department as well as two spare cameras to serve as backups should one of the cameras need repair. The proposal also includes dash cams for three cars that are now being used to meet COVID-19 protocols. Five patrol cars currently have dashboard cameras. The total cost includes installation, backup and storage.

The selectmen discussed the need for a special appropriation to cover the cost of the cameras, rather than including it in the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.  The Board of Finance also supports a special appropriation for the expense. The special appropriation must be approved by a town meeting before it can be allocated. The town will be able to seek reimbursement for some of the cost through a state grant.  The body camera grant program offers a 30% reimbursement rate. 

Doyle says it would be beneficial for the town to start this project sooner rather than later because all municipalities in the state will eventually have to purchase similar equipment. 

The law requires the body cameras to be in place by July 1, 2022.  Lawmakers passed the bill during a special session last summer and the governor signed it. Provisions of the law are being phased in. Some aspects took effect in October 2020 and additionally in January 2021.

The Board of Selectmen also discussed the following items:

  • The selectmen awarded a bid for the installation of a safety hand rail at the Easton Senior Center as recommended by Public Works Director Ed Nagy. The bid was awarded to the low bidder, Mono-Crete Step LLC, in the amount of $9,930.
  • The Planning and Zoning Commission requested the board’s opinion on the possibility of hiring a drinking water and reservoir management expert to advise, represent and advocate for the town in matters regarding Aquarion Water Company and the company’s desire to transfer a greater amount of water from the town’s reservoirs to lower Fairfield County. The selectmen agreed it’s an option worth exploring but requested more information on potential candidates, costs and scope.
  • The town hosted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Easton Library.  A second clinic is scheduled for early March. All appointments must be made online in adherence with state guidelines.
  • The Board of Selectmen plans to hold a forum to welcome new residents on March 11.  The forum will introduce new neighbors to many of the resources and opportunities in town.
  • The board continues to explore options to hold a Town Meeting in late March. The intention is to refer all agenda items to a machine vote, and to not hold a vote on individual items during the meeting. The selectmen will discuss potential agenda items at their next meeting.
  • The selectmen reappointed Michael Sabia Sr. as Measurer of Wood for a term that expires Jan. 2, 2022 and Charles Lynch as an alternate to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term that expires Jan. 2, 2024.

View a recording of the meeting on the town website.




Board of Selectmen Extends 5G Moratorium

Easton’s ban on the installation of 5G technology within the town now extends to June 30, 2021. First Selectman David Bindleglass, Selectman Bob Lessler and Selectman Kristi Sogofsky voted to extend the moratorium. The June deadline allows time for several state proposals on the issue to be considered by the legislature, which is in session until early June.

The selectmen initially passed the moratorium resolution last June, but it expired at the end of 2020.  The resolution calls on telecommunications companies to “cease and desist in the build-out of 5G-enabled small cell antennas” in the town until the technology has been proven safe to people and the environment through independent research and testing.

Several town residents spoke in favor of extending the ban, citing concerns about the impacts on the health of people, animals and the environment.

New EMS Generator

The selectmen also approved a proposal presented by Easton EMS to purchase a new generator for the EMS building on Sport Hill Road. The current generator is not functioning properly and unreliable despite efforts to extend its life. The selectmen approved the use of $21,635 in Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP) funds. LoCIP is a state program that provides financial assistance to municipalities for eligible capital projects. The initial funding request was included and approved as part of the EMS budget for 2020-21.

Appointments and Reappointments

January marks the start of new terms for many of the boards and commissions in town. As a result, the Board of Selectmen approved many reappointments. They also filled the final member vacancy on the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.

Appointment:

  • Chris Peritore – Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force (member, term expiring 1/2/22)

Reappointments:

  • Tara Donnelly Gottleib – Board of Finance (alternate, term expiring 1/2/27)
  • Philip Tamallanca – Parks and Recreation Commission (member, term expiring 1/2/24)
  • Rocky Sullivan – Parks and Recreation Commission (member, term expiring 12/2/24)
  • Jay Habansky – Planning and Zoning Commission (alternate, term expiring 1/2/24)
  • Wallace Williams – Planning and Zoning Commission (member, term expiring 1/2/26)
  • Prabha Gupta – Senior Center Advisory Board (member seat 1, term expiring 1/2/24)
  • Sally England – Senior Center Advisory Board (member seat 2, term expiring 1/2/24
  • Eunice Hanson – Senior Center Advisory Board (member seat 3, term expiring 1/2/24)
  • Ronald Berry – Insurance Commission (member, term expiring 1/2/24)
  • Anne Hughes – Commission for the Aging (member, term expiring 1/2/24)
  • James Yeotsas – Board of Fire Commissioners (member, term expiring 1/2/26)

View a recording of the Jan., 7 Board of Selectmen meeting HERE.




Selectmen Rebuke Wednesday’s Rampage of U.S. Capitol

During board comment at the end of their meeting tonight, the Board of Selectmen condemned Wednesday’s storming and occupation of the United States Capitol. 

“I don’t think we can leave the table tonight without reflecting on the horror of yesterday,” First Selectman Bob Lessler said. “I think it’s extremely sad and very unfortunate that the sitting president of the United States used language that would essentially cause people to attack the Capitol of the United States.”

All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent, he said, citing the words of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel prize winner.

“It was a very sad day in the history of the United States and something all Americans who respect the rule of law, who respect the will of the voters, who respect the Constitution, should abhor,” Lessler said.

A mob of Trump-inspired loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building, the internationally recognized symbol of democracy, to disrupt the final electoral count affirming the peaceful transition of power to President-Elect Joe Biden.

After being evacuated during the riot, lawmakers returned once the intruders were removed and worked late into the night, to complete the task. The invasion of the “People’s House” didn’t stop them from reconvening to complete the process and affirm Biden’s victory.

“I agree with Bob in saying the actions of yesterday were appalling,” Selectman Kristi Sogofsky said. “I don’t think anyone who saw it on their TV thought anything like that would ever occur.”

Sogofsky said it’s fortunate that there are systems in place to ensure that the people who stormed the Capitol — whose actions were “awful, surprising and disappointing” — would be dealt with in an appropriate way.

First Selectman Dave Bindelglass said he agreed with the “expressions of horror from people across the political spectrum,” and singled out former President George W. Bush. “He’s certainly not a person of similar political views to myself but I thought what he said was absolutely appropriate,” Bindelglass said.

“I would certainly agree with both of you that it was a horrible incident and hopefully one that will not be repeated in any of our lifetimes, and was perhaps a wakeup call,” Bindelglass said.

Bush was among a number of prominent Republicans who condemned the actions of the pro-Trump mob. Bush wrote in a prepared statement, “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.”

Without specifically naming Trump, he went on, “The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a Constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”




Board of Selectmen Meeting of Dec. 17, 2020

For the first time, the members of the board met entirely via Zoom because of the snowstorm and bitter cold temperatures. The board unanimously acted on routine matters by approving the minutes of the Dec. 3 meeting and approving several tax refunds as recommended by the tax collector.

EMS Generator

The board agreed to waive the bidding process for a generator for the EMS building because of the concern that the existing generator may fail at any time based on its recent history. Bids had been received, but all of the bids recommended a Generac product that the director of public works did not feel suited the needs of the town. The town will now solicit quotes on Kohler brand generators and another brand. The town currently has five Kohler brand generators which have served the town very well.

Tax Extension

Governor Lamont has recently issued executive order 9R which would extend the due date for taxes by one month identical to what was done for taxpayers in June with the July 1 tax due date. Towns were given some options at that time. If no action is taken by Dec. 31, the same extension terms selected by the town in June will remain in force for the January tax installment. The board decided not to change the previously approved extension terms. Taxpayers who are interested in these options should contact the tax collector’s office for details.

Covid-19 Status

First Selectman Bindelglass updated the board on Covid 19 matters. The state has listed some details on the vaccine rules which are posted on the state website. The Moderna vaccine, the second Covid-19 vaccine in the pipeline, was approved and should shortly be available. It is easier to use than the Pfizer vaccine as it can be stored at a higher temperature and has a shorter waiting period between the two doses. The town had a few fewer cases in the past two weeks but our numbers are still high. The town may be nearing the point where reduced hours for the library may be necessary to help slow the spread.

5G Wireless Service

One resident spoke during public comment to ask the board to extend the moratorium on installing 5G wireless service in the town. Earlier this year the board adopted the moratorium with an end date of Dec. 31. The board will take up the issue at its first meeting in January. As there are no present plans to install 5G in Easton, the delay should not present an issue.

Holiday Wishes, Thanks to Matt Gacchi

Selectwoman Sogofsky extended holiday good wishes to everyone and urged residents to be safe and smart during the holiday season. First Selectman Bindelglass also wished everyone a safe and happy holiday season. He spoke about a plan to arrange a welcome to Easton event or series of events for new residents and for residents who just want more information about town government, local service organizations and non-profits, and local businesses. More details will follow after the first of the year. He also expanded on his previous remarks thanking Matt Gachi, former Board of Finance member and chair, for his fine service to the town.