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Republican Selectmen Boycott Appointments

Republican Selectmen Boycott Appointments

Frustrated by the First Selectman’s unwillingness to change the appointment process for officers, boards and commissions, the Republican selectmen boycotted the June 24 special meeting called for that purpose by not attending. “We decided not to participate in a flawed process,” said Selectman Joseph Dey in a phone interview after the meeting. “Why gather all these names and go through the motions and everyone puts in time and effort and then they don’t even get regarded.”

Typically the Republican and the Democratic Town Committees will receive and review the resumes of people interested in serving on a board or commission – regardless of whether they are a member of that particular party. The Town committees then recommend a list of candidates to the Board of Selectmen. The majority party will make a nomination and highlight the particular candidate, then the minority party will make its nomination before a vote is taken in the same order. Except if the majority candidate is accepted, the voting stops there.

Selectman Dey, in a phone conversation after the special meeting, said two years ago the majority Democrats would nominate their candidate and then vote for him or her. The candidate put forth by the Republicans would not even be mentioned. He said he was uncomfortable with that process then, and the minutes reflect his thoughts on the subject.

He brought the issue up in an email to the first selectman on June 20, suggesting for the selectmen to take more time to really vet the candidates, maybe ask them to attend, then vote on each and every candidate in a separate vote. “If you vote no, you vote no,” he said. But at least the candidacy is publicly taken into consideration.

At the special meeting First Selectman Ellen Scalettar, a Democrat, said that the process had been in place for decades, followed under both Republican and Democratic administrations, “as long as I can remember”. “The majority party makes its recommendations; the minority party makes its recommendations, then we vote in the order presented.”

In a blistering critique of the Republican stance, the first selectman called this boycott an “irresponsible abrogation of their duties as selectmen-elect”. “They are holding the best interests of the town hostage until their demands are met,” she said, calling it disrespectful to those who showed up and to the residents of Woodbridge.

Given the importance of the appointments, which included those for tax collector, town clerk, assessor and boards and commissions, Scalettar and her two fellow Democrats, Beth Heller and Susan Jacobs, went ahead with the appointments. The resumes submitted had been vetted by both town committees.

“Our goal is to keep our government functioning,” Scalettar said in a phone conversation after the meeting. She said she was seeking outside legal counsel as they are trying to sort things out. “I will give the new Board of Selectmen every opportunity to ratify the actions we took last night,” she said, “so there is no question as to their validity.”

To the criticism that Republican nominees are not being considered, Scalettar said if the selectmen-elect had attended the meeting, they would have had the chance to nominate their candidate and highlight their accomplishments. As for voting on the minority party candidate, “there is no reason to vote for candidates when there is no open position” (because the majority voted first).

She pointed out that about a third of all the nominees presented were being supported by both parties. “The reality is that appointments are part of the political process and dependent upon the results of an election. That does not mean that there can’t be bi-partisan cooperation and agreement on many appointees,” she said in response to the Republican position.

Republican proposal: In their first email to the First Selectman, the Republicans Dey and Anthony Anastasio suggested that the board take more time to review the resumes and discuss in open dialogue the specific qualifications of each candidate. Selectmen would then cast a vote for each candidate. “This process seems better suited to determine and appoint the most qualified individuals in a thoughtful, reasonable and bi-partisan manner,” they wrote. As a second option they suggested to leave the more detailed dialogue out, but present every nominee up for a vote.

Scalettar said every resume, including those presented by the Republicans, is carefully considered, both before and at the meeting. “Had the Republicans been at the meeting and followed the time-honored process, they would have presented all their candidates and those candidates’ credentials.”

Following are the votes taken at the June 24 special meeting: (D&R refers to nominees endorsed by both Democratic and Republican Town committees)

  • Building Board of Appeals

Jay Alpert (D)

Joseph Palumbo (D&R)

Bruce Schaefer (D&R)

  • Conservation Commission

Timothy Kelley (D&R)

Julie Perlman

Lauren Miller

  • Country Club of Woodbridge Commission

Deke Hotchkiss (D&R)

Jeff Hughes (D&R)

Adolph Luciani (D&R)

Karen Leibovitz

Sandy Levine

Richard Krueger

  • Economic Development Commission

Kate Brown

Jamison Scott (D&R)

Yaron Baitch

Jeremy Rosner

  • EMS Commission

Marvin Arons (D&R)

Joe Hellauer (D&R)

  • Board of Ethics

Rev. Gene Gianelli (D&R)

Al Smith (D&R)

Dominick Thomas

Rbbi Rona Shapiro

  • Board of Finance

David King

Sandra Stein

Paul Kuriakose

  • Fire Commission

Elia Alexiades

Michael Horton

Mica Cardozo

  • Government Access Television Commission

Theresa Burr Bahner (D&R)

Aldon Hynes

Nancy Polk (D&R)

  • Human Services Commission

Sharon Bender

Susan Davidson

Chris Lovejoy (D&R)

Ann Klee

  • Inland Wetlands Agency

Jack Kurek

David Speranzini

Alternate: Jeanne Webber

  • Investment Committee

Lor Ferrante Fernandes (at large)

Selectman Beth Heller

Margaret Hamilton (at large)

[one appointment from the Board of Finance]

  • Library Commission

Elizabeth Marsh

Aldonna Noto (D&R)

Tom Shernow (D&R)

Loredana Falcigno

  • Board of Police Commissioners

Robert Berke

Deborah Desir

Deborah Fried

  • Publicly Owned Properties Commission

Lor Ferrante Fernandes

Marc Keslow

Michael Maoz

Teri Schatz

  • Recreation Commission

Stanley Gedansky (D&R)

Robert Hill

Pennell Hamilton

  • Sperry Park Committee

John Adamovich (D&R)

Chris Burr-Bahner (D&R)

Shela McCreven

  • Town Plan and Zoning Commission

Jeffrey Kaufman

Allen Lipson

Kathleen Wallace

Alternates: Andy Pels; Andy Skolnick

Town Hall positions

Assessor: Betsy Quist

Registrar of Vital Statistics and Town Clerk: Stephanie Ciarleglio

Sub Registrar and assistant clerks: Karen Berchem, Ellie Sheehy and Marcy Naylor

Tax collector: Pat Crisco

Assistant tax collector: Linda Cahill

Others:

Treasurer: Harriet Cooper

Assistant Treasurer: Joe Hellauer

Tree Warden: Warren Connors

Deputy Tree Warden: Adam Parsons

Cable Advisory Council: Elia Alexiades and Cynthia Papish Gerber

EMS Council: Lt. Jeff Leiby

Health District Board of Directors: Dr. Roy Ivins and Dr. Richard Martinello

Water Authority Policy Council: Mark Levine

Town Counsel: Jerry Weiner

Deputy First Selectman: Beth Heller

Ordinance Committee: Joe Dey and Susan Jacobs

Personnel Committee: Toy Anastasio, Beth Heller and Ellen Scalettar

By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent

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