Herbst responds to Trumbull Dems’ press release

Press release from Trumbull first selectman Tim Herbst in response to yesterday’s press release from the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee:

TRUMBULL – First Selectman Timothy M. Herbst offered the following statement concerning boards and commission appointments in the Town of Trumbull:

Unaffiliated voters represent the largest segment of the Town’s voting population. Many unaffiliated voters are concerned about the issues affecting our Town and are less concerned with the “gotcha” politics that occurs between the two political parties. Unaffiliated voters deserve a seat at the table because they represent the largest voting population in the Town. I am proud to have appointed unaffiliated voters to the Golf Commission, WPCA, as well as the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission. This week, I will appoint, recommend and consider unaffiliated voters to serve on the Conservation Commission, Board of Finance and Police Commission.

If the Democratic Town Committee wishes to introduce the names of Lisa Valenti and Kathleen McGannon to serve as Board of Finance alternates, they have every right to contact their council representatives and ask that they introduce their names in the form of a resolution. I have made very clear to Chairwoman DiNardo my reasons for not introducing the names of Ms. Valenti and Ms. McGannon to serve on the Board of Finance. In a related vein, I have explained my reasons for not appointing Mr. Baldwin to the Police Commission and Mr. Shapiro to the Trumbull W.P.C.A.

In their most recent press release, the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee indicated that “[l]ongstanding tradition in Trumbull has been to give the political parties wide latitude in selecting candidates for seats granted to them under the minority representation laws.” From reading this press release, it is apparent that Chairwoman DiNardo, Mrs. Thornton and Mr. Silber either have amnesia or are attempting to rewrite history. Preceding my term of office, the following actions were taken by the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee and the former administration:

1.) Former First Selectman Baldwin and a Democratic controlled Town Council appointed the maximum number of Democrat alternates to the Planning and Zoning Commission, despite the fact that Republicans held a majority of elected members on the panel and were entitled to the maximum number of alternates;

2.) Elaine Hammers was rejected as an alternate to serve on the Trumbull Board of Finance, despite the fact that she was a former Board of Finance Chair and former Town Finance Director;

3.) Aaron Blank was rejected by the Trumbull Town Council to serve as an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals;

4.) John Ponzio was rejected to serve on the Golf Commission by former First Selectman Baldwin. Thereafter, Mr. Baldwin handpicked Republicans to serve on the Golf Commission, disregarding the recommendation of the Republican Town Committee;

5.) The late Jerry McDougall, an unaffiliated voter at the time, was recommended for one of the Republican seats on the Police Commission by the Republican Town Committee and was rejected by former First Selectman Baldwin, after verbally stating that he would honor the recommendation;

6.) Upon the election of John Malfettone as Town Treasurer and the resignation of Frank Metrusky, two vacancies were created on the Trumbull Board of Finance. Again, rather than honor the Republican Town Committee’s recommendations, Mr. Baldwin hand-picked two Republicans of his choosing (Martin Shapiro and James Nugent). This action ultimately caused the Town to have a special election.

I should point out that I have not unilaterally chosen Democrats to serve on boards and commissions. I have appointed unaffiliated voters to fill open seats on various boards and commissions. Now, the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee complains of this action when in point of fact, they have a history of engaging in more egregious behavior. Given the history, the current rhetoric from Mrs. Thornton contradicts her actions and votes as a member of the Trumbull Town Council.

When the PZC alternate positions, BOF alternate positions and Golf Commission appointments came before the Town Council, Mrs. Thornton voted in lockstep with her party and denied the Republican Town Committee the opportunity to offer their recommendations.

I would also encourage my friends on the other side of the aisle to read the latest Town Charter, adopted in 2011. Chapter VIII, Section 4, attached hereto, relates to majority limitation and not minority representation. Clearly, the language of this section prevents a majority party from exceeding the maximum number of seats they are entitled, while at the same time allowing the minority party andunaffiliated voters to have a voice on various boards and commissions.

Vinti Singh