Tuesday, January 15, 2013

P&Z Commission Fails To Elect Regional Council Rep

The Planning and Zoning Commission could not agree at its last meeting on a candidate to serve as Middletown's representative on the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments. Two candidates were nominated, Molly Salafia (R) and Michael Johnson (D), the votes were strictly along party lines. Each party suggested that the other candidate serve as the alternate, the Republicans additionally expressed concern about Johnson's attendance record.

The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (LCRV-COG) derived from the consolidation of two separate regional planning agencies, Midstate and Connecticut River Estuary. The consolidation was encouraged by state policies under Governor Malloy, who has emphasized both consolidation and regional initiatives to increase efficiency in government spending.

LCRV-COG steff will do regional planning on issues such as transportation and land use, and provide technical assistance to member towns on issues such as housing, economic development, waste management, and emergency management. State and federal funding will flow through the LCRV-COG, and it will be a venue for our City (through the mayor) to provide input on regional issues at the state and federal level.

The LCRV-COG has a budget of about $1M, of which about 20% is derived from dues. Middletown is the largest municipality in the LCRV-COG, with 48,000 residents out of the combined agency population of 176,000; we contributed about $30,000 to the budget.

One of the representatives to LCRV-COG is elected by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Michael Johnson has been serving as the representative to the Midstate Regional Planning Agency, the predecessor to the LRCV-COG, and the Democratic members of the Commission felt it was natural that he continue. After neither Salafia nor Johnson received the necessary number of votes to be elected, Salafia explained that she was concerned that Johnson's extensive work commitments prevented his regular attendance to represent the City at Regional meetings. Salafia has elaborated on those concerns in a letter to the editor.

Johnson was not present at last week's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to respond to Salafia's concern. In a phone interview, Johnson said that regional planning was very exciting to him, "I'd like to be a part of the COG."

Johnson admitted he was unable to attend a number of regional meetings in September, October and November. The minutes of the Midstate Regional Planning Agency for August through December are not available, but Johnson was able to attend only 4 of the 7 meetings in 2012 for which minutes are available. He attended only 1 of the 4 meetings between April and July.


Tree Fanatic said...

If I understand the history of this organization correctly, it represents not only the merger of the two previous RPAs but also of the CT River Valley Council of Elected Officials. Middletown has lost substantial representation, since, under the old system, we had three representatives in the RPA, plus representation in the Council of Elected Officials. It is critical that whoever is appointed actually represent our city. I think attendance at meetings should be a minimum requirement.

William Wilson said...

Mr. Johnson has missed a number of Planning and Zoning meetings and yet he should be the one to representative to CT River Valley Council. This is nothing more than politics as usual.

Ms. Salafia would do a great job representing Middletown in the CT River Valley Council. As her attendance at Planning and Zoning has been excellent and in my opinion would continue.

Anonymous said...

Agreed Molly should fill the spot. She has had too much time on her hands writing posts for the Middletown Insider.

John Paganetti said...

William: You're right, this is politics as usual, but both parties are to blame. If neither party can agree on the presented candidates, then a third should be found that can be agreed upon. The Republicans don't get a pass for presenting the better of two inadequate options.

This stonewalling crap should be left to the people in Washington.

Anonymous said...

John Paganetti the name of a deceased sports hero- nice pseudo name to hide behind

Anonymous said...

No, Paganetti is a local bio fuel salesman, ie probably has a dislike for Republicans in general.

Anonymous said...

If Johnsin can't be bothered to attend he is a poor choice to remain in this position. He should have done the right unselfish thing and resigned long before someone had to bring it up.