Board of Reps approve Mirkin appointment

mirkinfirefightersABOVE: Unionized firefighters demonstrated against Scott Mirkin’s nomination to the Fire Commission at the Government Center Monday night.

STAMFORD — After two hours of caucusing, the Board of Representatives voted to approve former Republican city Rep. Scott Mirkin’s  appointment to the Fire Commission Monday night.

The Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association attended the meeting armed with “Fire Fighters Against Mirkin” signs. The union lobbied against Mirkin’s appointment to the Fire Commission largely because of 2010 comments he made comparing their frequent criticism of volunteer firefighters to the way “Hamas lobs rockets into Israel.”

Mirkin told the Appointments Committee Monday the comment was a metaphor, not a comparison between firefighters and terrorists.

The Board of Representatives voted 21-11-5 in favor of Mirkin’s appointment. Several Democrats spoke against the nomination and one Republican spoke in support:

  • City Rep. Ben Velishka, D-2“I have concerns that this appointee will not be able to remain objective in his appointment to the Fire Commission … due to his past comments regarding the city’s professional fire department — I have concerns that he will not be able to remain objective as a member of the Fire Commission.”
  • City Rep. Eileen Heaphy, D-8: “I think particularly now with the question before the city of trying to merge the volunteer and career firefighters into one effective department — I think it’s important to have somebody come in who doesn’t have some of the problems that have been associated with Mr. Mirkin and the professional fire department.”
  • City Rep. John Zelinsky, D-11: “I worked with Mr. Mirkin for many years. He voted I believed the way his constituents wanted him to vote. He was always prepared at the meetings. He did extremely well. I personally like former representative Mirkin. However tonight we are not asked to judge an individual or vote on an individual based on friendship or past achievements or working ability. He said he used (the Hamas comment) as a metaphor. Well I don’t know. That’s pretty strong words for a metaphor. The commission’s job is not only to appoint new firefighters but to promote and to handle complaints regarding firefighters. I just wonder if he or anybody who has seriously criticized the professional firefighters could act objectively in that regard.”
  • City Rep. Harry Day, D-13: “He and I were co-reps in the 13th district. Everybody knows Scott is extremely outspoken. What you really have to look at is what his record was, not what he may have said in a particular instance of frustration. He most certainly did not intend to describe anybody as a terrorist. What he favored and what he worked so hard to do, which he could not get done, was simply to get a public hearing for a plan that was proposed by the mayor. That’s what frustrated Scott. He’s a very, very fair guy. His primary concern was and still is the public safety of this city and he worked many, many years to advance the safety of our city. I think you can point to things in the past but they don’t resonate to me when you look at the big picture of this guy’s record.”

The full voting record is as follows:

  • Yea, 21 votes: Caterbone, Cerasoli, Coppola, Day, DeLuca, Fedeli, Franzetti, Giordano, Kaufman, Layton, Loglisci, Lombardo, McMullen, Mitchell, Rauh, Savage, Skigen, Sklover, Summerville, Taylor, Uva
  • Nay, 11 votes: Adams, Figueroa, Gabriele, Giraldo, Heaphy, Mallozzi, McGarry, McNeil, Merritt, Velishka, Zelinsky
  • Excused/Abstaining, 5 votes: Fountain, Frazis, Moore, Pia, Wallace
  • Absent, 3 city Reps: Coleman, DePina, White