In response to Karen Cusick’s letter of July 1 regarding the situation with the Board of Selectmen meetings (or non-meetings) to make appointments to Boards and Commissions, please allow me to make a few fact-based points.
First, the request, not the demand, to use an alternate method to nominate people for these positions did not first come hours before the meeting. The Republican Selectmen made the request via email on June 20, several days before the scheduled BOS meeting. There actually were repeated requests between June 20th and the 24th, all documented by emails, with the last one coming hours before the meeting. The implication that this request was sprung on the First Selectman hours before the June 24 meeting is the real political theater here.
Second, let’s all be clear on what this “demand” is. Simply, it is to allow the names of all nominees to be heard publicly and debated in an open meeting. That’s it. This process has been closed for a very long time, and frankly, as the Town Charter allows the First Selectman to cast a second vote when there is a tied vote among the six BOS members, the outcome of who will be seated is not in doubt. The process being so ardently defended is to allow the First Selectman to recognize a BOS member for the purpose of nominating someone to a Board. It’s seconded and then votes are cast, with ties being broken by the First Selectman. Under this process, if all the open positions are filled with the first vote (which they are), then there are no more open seats to fill, closing the need for further nominations. Thus, those not nominated to begin with are never introduced for consideration. Yes, this has been the process for decades (and one that needs revising), but what isn’t said is the process potential volunteers go through to get to that point is far more rigorous than in decades past. Resumes must be submitted and interviews are done by the party committees (the Republicans did, I cannot speak for the Democrats) before anyone’s name is put forth. We think, by participating in this process, nominees should be shown the proper respect by, at a minimum, having his or her name introduced to the BOS and a vote taken on their nomination. Shutting people out from consideration by our decades-old process we think is not “in the best interests of the Town” as the First Selectman does.
The way out of this mess is to give the three Republican-endorsed BOS members the opportunity to announce their nominees’ names to the full BOS. A thoughtful, public discussion on the merits of each candidate would be appropriate. The BOS members would then vote for their preferred nominees. We fully expect the outcome of who gets appointed will not change, but those who offered to serve the town will “have their day in court” and be recognized publicly for making such an offer of their time and talent. We think this is with merit, an improvement in the process that is not attempting to game the system to change the outcome, and is in keeping with an effort to provide a more open government at the local level.
Secretary – Woodbridge Republican Town Committee