The following is a letter to the editor, submitted by current Council member Phil Pessina.
Shortly after being elected for my 3rd Term on Common Council, assuming the Role of Minority Leader and witnessing a Republican Administration led by former Mayor Seb Giuliano who created a time of a confrontational style of government within our city, both Councilman Joe Bibisi & I knew it was an opportunity for us to take a New Leadership Role for our Republican Party, transitioning our city government to work more cooperatively, collaboratively within a Bipartisan framework; essentially committing ourselves to making “Middletown First”, each within our own parties and our own Leadership roles!
Mediocrity and politics at its best started to raise its ugly head at various Republican Town Committee Meetings and especially over the past 7 months, which unfortunately I could not attend as they always seemed to conflict with my various Council Committee assignments I was appointed to. As I took these assignments seriously, along with my Council duties, I often notified our RTC Secretary sending my apologies due to my council commitments and responsibilities; putting “Middletown First”! I then became my Republican Party’s target of unfounded accusations, especially during the restructuring of our city government creating the Office of General Counsel. Our party has been and continues to be a party of “Cartoons & Buffoons”!
This political pressure was led by our former Mayor Giuliano, who wrote in an email on January 29th, 2013 at 5:37pm where he states his personal opinion to pressure the party to vote not in the best interest of Middletown, but to support his personal political agenda; his words were clear, “Secondly, municipal elections loom. Any Republican who votes in favor of these resolutions is putting the entire Republican ticket in an untenable position. The mayoral candidate-whoever it may be-will be compelled to run against positions supported by such Councilpersons. As such, it will be impossible for them to be on the same ticket. We cannot have a situation where members of the slate are criticizing Democratic initiatives and other members of the same slate are defending them. For me, I cannot support the recommendations of the “blue ribbon panel” in general, but any proposal to re-make the Legal department into anything other than an office of lawyers being lawyers and functioning in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility is especially troubling. I therefore intend to oppose such initiatives, as well as the re-nomination of any incumbent Councilpersons who vote in favor thereof.”
With this email, Seb’s interest for Middletown is his own best interest, filled with Mediocrity and personal politics; NOT putting “Middletown First” but attacks a Senior Councilperson, Joe Bibisi who served as his Deputy Mayor for his three terms faithfully. He now has set the stage for Joe & I not to be re-nominated for this Fall’s Republican Ticket! I suggest that if he is willing to do that and disregard personal friendships and commitments, what will he do to our city residents when they don’t happen to agree with his proposals? Remember, he has a track record of putting his personal political bias over that of the council and the public; surely NOT putting “Middletown First!”
Mediocrity raises its ugly head again, as a result of a conversation between Seb and I at a Caucus Meeting, where I inform him of my disappointment with this e mail he sent out, essentially advising him that his words and actions are destructive to the party and he acknowledges that the party in already broken and not being responsible for the fracture, offering to heal it while we still can. His example of healing was by him standing up at a Town Committee Meeting shortly thereafter, raising 4 fingers stating to me that “We just need 4 members on the council and no one should feel comfortable in their council positions!”
During the Common Council meeting prior to the merger vote taking place I felt it my responsibility to stand on my principles and expressing my belief in smaller government, which is more efficient and a more cost effective way to doing business. I noted that a recent statement from a CEO in Business addressed the perils of change, that it is difficult and that voices to protect the status quo are loud, well organized and politically motivated; such as in our case and Not putting “Middletown First!”
I was and still am perplexed by the amount of resistance to the mergers which have been made and planned for by a Democratic controlled council supporting Conservatism in government; why as Republicans would we not support the merger? Is the real reason for the resistance and our treatment about Republican Mediocrity, verses providing for a more cost effective government?
Knowing the political fate ahead, Joe & I then made the decision, that we would not be controlled by politics and continued with our bold steps to shed a new light on our party from a confrontational approach, to continue to build upon positive relationships in city government; essentially putting “Middletown First”!
As my June 27th, 2013 Interview approaches, I now know that we are not being re-nominated. This feeling was based upon Bill Wilson, Vice Chairman’s email sent out prior to the Interviews, where he accepts Mediocrity by letting Joe & I know that there are people complaining about my endorsement of Mayor Drew’s Budget. ` Bill Wilson goes on to name Joe & I and that our spots on the ticket are not guaranteed on the next council; noting further “We are Republicans and should be voting as Republicans. I don’t want to hear there is no difference between the two, after what voters have been hearing from two of our council people. Things have to change. Remember we are guaranteed four spots on the council no matter who we run, so no one should feel safe or that their spot is guaranteed”. For the record, I did not state that I supported the Mayor’s Budget, which I eventually voted against.
The minutes of the May 28th, 2013 Republican Town Committee Meeting, again alludes to Mediocrity when “Seb Giuliano speaks out claiming that our issues are evaporating.” Bill Wilson, Vice Chairman of the Republican Party suggests that people within our own party agree too much with the Democrats and Party Chairman Ken McClellan singles out both Joe & I by name.
So we knew what we were up against going into the interviews, which was a tainted process. I immediately prefaced my interview that I was fully aware of the rumors which were circling City Hall about me and Joe not being re-nominated and expressed my disappointment with our party. I further noted, that we were going into a very important election and asked them the question for which they could not answer, why we would not put forth our strongest Council Slate, headed by Joe & I who have been the top Republican vote getters, especially during a time when two of the Democratic Council members were retiring?
I went on to give a very strong case with my experience, accomplishments, changing the image of our party and not giving up my principles of service to our community. I offered mentorship to new candidates and my support; but as predicted we were not nominated. For the record I am not filing any type of ethical complaint, but I will let the voters decide if these facts speak for themselves.
In closing, I would like to say that I am not bitter with this process, but I am highly disappointed with the Town Committee’s Leadership, who had neither the inability nor the willingness to stand up against Mediocrity and those that have self-interest over the interest of our city. Our party is being led by Seb Guiliano, Ken McClellan, Bill Wilson in the wrong direction, or as our Party Chair Ken recently stated that “our party wants to go in a different direction”; apparently they do Not want to put “Middletown First”!
I have always taken my oath of Offices throughout my 40 plus years during my Middletown Police Career and City Government service very seriously and will remind my naysayers and those who strive on controversy in government and self-promotion, that take a look in the mirror and ask this important question; Did I provide the service and honest approach to government, knowing that I have truly helped our city of Middletown move forward for the right reasons; Putting Middletown First! I know that Joe & I did!
Thank you to all our supporters for the wonderful and heartwarming phone calls and emails, during this transition period for Joe & I while we contemplate with our families of our future decisions!
Councilman Philip J. Pessina
Common Council, Minority Leader