Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Serra "Corrects" Devoto, Boyce "Corrects" the Correction and a Further Correction From an Anonymous Commenter

UPDATED

As you may have already read, the Common Council voted unanimously Monday to appoint Dan Russo to the vacant seat on Planning and Zoning, and voted 7-3 to appoint Phil Pessina to the vacant alternate seat on the P&Z.

In what was an enlightening foreshadowing of partisan sparring on the Council, and on the P&Z for that matter, Council members who spoke cited the charter, precedent, party privilege and tradition as reasons for making the appointments.

The Council voted Russo in despite his absentee record (missing 40% of P&Z meetings), and despite pleas from a number of residents to seat Democratic alternate Beth Emery, who has an exemplary attendance record.  Russo, for his part, claimed that his absences never threatened quorum, and that illness, family duties and business travel had kept him from meetings.  Predominantly, Council members cited precedent for appointing Russo because in the election, he was the Democrat with the next highest number of votes.  Ironically, when it came to appointing the Republican alternate, the same Democrats ignored the precedent they had used earlier.  Despite pleas from Republican Council members to seat the next highest Republican vote getter, Vincent Szynkowicz, the Democratic majority voted to appoint Phil Pessina, who had  not run for a P&Z seat.

In defending his vote for Russo, Councilman Tom Serra, corrected what he called an error in testimony by Planning and Zoning member Stephen Devoto.  Devoto argued that the next-highest-vote-getter precedent had been ignored in the past when Quentin Phipps was appointed to the P&Z over next highest vote getter David Boyce.  Serra claimed that Boyce was not appointed because he was a city employee, and that law forbids such an appointment.

Russo was Chair of the Democratic Town Committee when Phipps was appointed.  In a statement last night, Boyce made this clarification:

"Mr. Russo asked to be appointed because he was the second highest vote getter, just like I was in 2009.  However he (Russo) passed me over for the alternate (Phipps).  Now that he (Russo) is the second highest vote getter, he pleaded to be appointed instead of the alternate, and got his wish, breaking past practice.  Majority Leader Thomas Serra stated tonight at the meeting that I was not appointed because I was a City employee.  What rule or law is he citing?...If that was the case, why was I allowed to run in the first place, and why was I allowed to be elected to the Board of Assessment Appeals and appointed to the Human Relations Commission?  Chapter 2, Section 3 of the City Charter states 'No elected official in the Government of the City, during the full term of the office for which said official was elected, shall be eligible for appointment to any salaried position except to the positions of Corporate Counsel and Mayor's Administrative Assistant(s) within the City Government.  Persons being so appointed must resign from elected office.'  No violation there since I'm an employee...not an elected official being appointed to a city job.  And if he is citing the Hatch Act, no violation there because my job does not get federal funds, and furthermore, if it did, the Hatch Act would allow me to be appointed to finish out and (sic) elected officials term."


An anonymous commenter points to Connecticut State Law:

David you need to read State Statutes 7-421(e) :

(e) Any municipal employee shall have the right to serve on any governmental body of the town in which such employee resides except any body which has responsibility for direct supervision of such employee. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, (1) no such employee shall serve on any of the following unless such employee is permitted to serve pursuant to the provisions of a municipal charter or home rule ordinance or serves because of membership on the legislative body of the municipality: (A) Any board of finance created pursuant to chapter 106 or any special act or municipal charter; (B) any body exercising zoning powers pursuant to chapter 124 or any special act or municipal charter; (C) any body exercising land use powers pursuant to chapter 125a or any special act or municipal charter; (D) any body exercising planning powers pursuant to chapter 126 or any special act or municipal charter; or (E) any body regulating inland wetlands and watercourses pursuant to chapter 440 or any special act or municipal charter; and (2) any municipality may, by ordinance adopted by its legislative body, authorize such employees to serve on (A) any body exercising zoning powers pursuant to chapter 124 or any special act or municipal charter; (B) any body exercising land use powers pursuant to chapter 125a or any special act or municipal charter; (C) any body exercising planning powers pursuant to chapter 126 or any special act or municipal charter; or (D) any body regulating inland wetlands and watercourses pursuant to chapter 440 or any special act or municipal charter.



16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who exactly is Dan Russo and why is he so persuasive?"irony" does not adequately explain the flip flopping on principles .

Linda Salafia said...

By the way, I was a city employee, a union officer and a sitting member on the Common Council all at the same time not too long ago.

Another comment made during the discussion of the motion to appoint Mr. Pessina was that he had been told he would be appointed so they had to do it. He asked for the appointment and because he has been a Councilman and a police officer, he deserves to have a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission?

Seriously??

Anonymous said...

When the Council votes unanimously to appoint someone that looks pretty bipartisan. But no, not to the village people. wahhhh.

Anonymous said...

Yawn

Anonymous said...

David you need to read State Statutes 7-421(e) and stop asking for apologies. Serra is correct you are wrong. Now you should apologize to Serra.

(e) Any municipal employee shall have the right to serve on any governmental body of the town in which such employee resides except any body which has responsibility for direct supervision of such employee. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, (1) no such employee shall serve on any of the following unless such employee is permitted to serve pursuant to the provisions of a municipal charter or home rule ordinance or serves because of membership on the legislative body of the municipality: (A) Any board of finance created pursuant to chapter 106 or any special act or municipal charter; (B) any body exercising zoning powers pursuant to chapter 124 or any special act or municipal charter; (C) any body exercising land use powers pursuant to chapter 125a or any special act or municipal charter; (D) any body exercising planning powers pursuant to chapter 126 or any special act or municipal charter; or (E) any body regulating inland wetlands and watercourses pursuant to chapter 440 or any special act or municipal charter; and (2) any municipality may, by ordinance adopted by its legislative body, authorize such employees to serve on (A) any body exercising zoning powers pursuant to chapter 124 or any special act or municipal charter; (B) any body exercising land use powers pursuant to chapter 125a or any special act or municipal charter; (C) any body exercising planning powers pursuant to chapter 126 or any special act or municipal charter; or (D) any body regulating inland wetlands and watercourses pursuant to chapter 440 or any special act or municipal charter.

Ed McKeon said...

Anon 6:49:

As I wipe my tears, I can tell you, assuredly, that there was no bipartisanship anywhere in those chambers Monday night. Every vote was a calculated political move. Every compliment to a departing commissioner rang hollow.

BTW, it's fun to stay at the YMCA.

Always,
Ed

Anonymous said...

we voted for change in the P & Z group and it appears that the political machine has decided that the voters will be getting business as usual... Get out the rubber stamp of approval for everything with no thought on planning

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain what is at stake here. Lust for power?
Personal gain? Revenge? Certainly, all involved want what is best for the City but evidently no one can agree what is best and how to achieve this ideal. The current tableaux of small-minded political maneuvering is a discouraging way to begin the New Year. Surely we want a functional and responsive government rather than a bickering bunch of children in charge our City's affairs. If this estimation is an accusation or an insult to anyone, it is unintended.

Anonymous said...

if State Statute 7-421(e) prohibits city employees from holding elected commissioner positions then why would Boyce or anyone who is a city employee be permitted to run and campaign for office in the first place?

David Bauer said...

I'm shocked, shocked to hear that there was politics being played in the Council Chamber.

This is the character of all legislative bodies and as a member of the Minority I sure can't change that tune.

The only way there will be collaboration is for the Council to be working on ideas - anything else will be as Personality Driven as last Monday's meeting. And in that political atmosphere, the best that the Public can hope for is that the alliances, motivations, and personalities are not as opaque as they currently are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03 -
The state statute does not prohibit city employees from being elected to or sitting on ALL boards, just certain ones (some of which Middletown does not have such as a board of finance). Looks like it is limited to planning, inland wetlands, and zoning boards.

This would explain why Boyce could serve on Human Relations and Board of Assessment appeals and Salafia on Council while still city employees. Serving on those boards/commissions while a city/town employee aren't prohbited by the state law.

Brian Stewart said...

This is making my head spin. Let me see if I understand the facts:

1) As of last week, Mr. Boyce did not know that CT statutes prohibit him serving on P&Z.
2) But Mr. Serra knew in 2009 that Mr. Boyce could not be seated legally on P&Z, which he now says is why Mr. Boyce was not seated as an alternate.
3) In 2009, Mr. Boyce ran for P&Z with the endorsement of the Middletown democrat party, failing to gain a seat by by 239 votes.
4) If he had won, he could not have been seated legally, which Mr. Serra now says he knew at the time.

Do I have that straight?

Anonymous said...

Salafia was not a council person while she was a city employee- she is a retired city person like many.

Anonymous said...

I have a serious question. If Councilman Serra knew in 2009 that Boyce was not legally able to be seated on the Planning and Zoning Commission, then why didn't he say anything then? Or did they just happen upon this statue recently and decided to use it to justify why they treated Boyce differently in 2009? Make no mistake, the statue definitely bans Boyce from serving on that commission. But this story is growing larger than that and leaves many unanswered questions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brian Stewart for outlining what I was trying to get at @10:03. It is a real doozy. Any answers out there?

Anonymous said...

Salafia was on council for a shory time while she was a city employee. She was elected in Nov 2011 and didn't retire until end of DEC 2011