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Letters: Bait & Switch?

To The Editor:

Do we need to worry about another bait and switch? At the October 17, 2019 Board of Finance meeting, following a presentation of the development proposal for the Country Club of Woodbridge, Board member (and former First Selectman) Ellen Scalettar made a statement that sent shock waves throughout the room, “The town does not have to pay off the debt…we could use it (the money) for another purpose.”

Her Board of Finance colleagues all nodded in agreement.

Wait…what?! For months, First Selectman Beth Heller has been promising that if the project is approved, sale proceeds will pay off the Country Club debt. But apparently the Board of Finance is not on board.

Clearly, this revelation caused some consternation in Town Hall, since Finance chairman Matt Giglietti felt compelled to address it directly during the Public Comment portion of his board’s next meeting. I fully expected that he would support the First Selectman’s many previous promises. But instead he and his board doubled down, refusing to commit to use sale proceeds to pay off the debt if a sale occurs. In fact, Finance board member Susan Jacobs said, “I don’t think the discretion of this board should ever be circumscribed in that way.”

The Board of Finance may be justified in retaining its prerogative and flexibility and refusing to guarantee that it will carry out the First Selectman’s promises. However, given that they are taking this position, it is disingenuous and misleading for the First Selectman to continue to assert, whatever her intentions and hopes may be, that the debt will be retired if a sale occurs. Because, according to the Board of Finance, it very well may not happen.

After these two Board of Finance meetings, where the First Selectman was in attendance and participated in the discussion, she persisted in promising, in her newspaper column and in her email newsletter, that the debt would be retired with proceeds from a sale. Who and what are we supposed to believe?

In the event there is a referendum, the First Selectman will be publishing a so-called “Fact Sheet” presumably intended to fully inform us about all aspects of the deal. It is imperative that such a publication contain actual, verified facts and guaranteed outcomes, not just intentions, wishes, and hoped-for outcomes masquerading as facts.

Cathy Wick

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