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Unhappy With Meeting Coverage



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To the Editor:

I’m writing in reference to the front page article regarding the process being used to dispose of 6 Commerce Rd, in last week’s Bee (“Selectmen Discuss Sale Of 6 Commerce, ARPA Funds Usage”). The article read like a transcription of the BOS meeting minutes, providing the First Selectman with another platform to share his unsubstantiated claims that he does not have to follow the steps outlined, in black and white, in Chapter 8-10 of the town charter, when it comes to the process of disposing of our real property like our meadow at 6 Commerce Rd. It provided him with another chance to claim that the town attorney endorses his out of compliance activities, including that he can pitch to and negotiate with developers, and that he can spend taxpayer funds on appraisals, without seeking the approval of the Board of Selectmen, which is the very first step listed in 8-10, without providing that actual legal opinion from the town attorney. Your article did not shed any more light than when the Legislative Council asked the 1st Selectman about the process. You both let him answer, but didn’t ask follow-up questions and didn’t reference the actual charter requirements either. You had an opportunity to seek comment from the Town Attorney and/or comments from residents who are accusing the 1st Selectman of being out of compliance with the charter … but didn’t. You had an opportunity to tell the public that the Newtown Conservation Coalition has asked the Legislative Council to take this up at their next meeting in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue, and to take any corrective actions necessary … but you didn’t. And you had an opportunity to ask the First Selectman about the letter the town sent the state in 2009 when he was on the legislative council, conceding to the state that “the virgin and open space and agricultural land (6 Commerce Rd) should be preserved and protected”. We appreciate you restating the what shows in the recent meeting minutes, but there’s really nothing new or newsworthy about that front page article. We challenge you to dig a little deeper in the future.

Dave Ackert, on behalf of the Newtown Conservation Coalition

Sandy Hook

Editor’s Note: The story referenced in the above letter was intended solely to cover what occurred at a single public meeting. In-depth coverage of every issue surrounding 6 Commerce Road was outside the purview of that article. The Newtown Bee will provide additional coverage on 6 Commerce Road in future issues.

A letter from Dave Ackert.
Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. netwownnutmegger says:

    Its not just this meeting – its pretty much all town meetings. When was the last time you saw an article on the Bee’s website regarding P&Z or BOE? Did you know that a BOE member resigned in January and a new one was appointed? These used to be featured articles on the Bee website after they went into the print edition. Unfortunately, things have changed a lot at the Bee since Mr. Voket left.

    1. ntb.shannon.hicks says:

      EDITOR’S NOTE: We do not publish everything that goes into print on our website. We never have. It’s a longstanding policy that our print subscribers benefit by being able to read every feature, article, press release, etc, and see every advertisement, thanks to their paid subscriptions. Many stories are posted a few days after each print edition is published but some are never shared online.

      The Board of Education vacancy created by a resignation on February 20, which was filled on March 19, was covered in the March 22, 2024 print edition. Sorry you missed those stories.

      1. netwownnutmegger says:

        Well, Shannon, its a good thing that my post didn’t mention “everything” from print being published online. I do note, however, that you didn’t address the main point of my initial comment, that as of the paper of record for the town you might actually publish information from the majority of the Town’s Commissions and Boards online. Its not like there is hard hitting investigative journalism in these stories; they’re really just a regurgitation of the meetings minutes. John Voket used to post these types of stories on the Bee’s website, even if the updates were several weeks in arrears.

        For what its worth, I didn’t miss any of those stories as I am a subscriber (that’s how I knew about it in the first place). However, many people in town who aren’t subscribers did miss those stores and otherwise have no idea because its clearly not a priority for the Bee to post them online anymore. Fortunately, however, your online readers are fully informed of the First Selectman’s ability to bake sour dough bread.

        1. ntb.shannon.hicks says:

          We are not investigative reporters. We’ve never claimed to be. We cover meetings, write features, and do other very good work for this town.

          We’re not doing any less than when John Voket was Editor (nor any of his predecessors). Sorry we’re not doing enough for you.


  2. tomj says:

    Dave at the NCC, this letter says that this letter was written on behalf of the Newtown Conservation Commission. Your website lists Land Use Staff, does this mean they are part of your Commission and your letter above speaks for them, or does it just speak for the 7 “citizen” members? I ask because typically, letters to the editor are written as individuals, don’t remember any Commission or board representative writing in for the whole land use department. This brings up another question your charter doesn’t say anything about opposing all new privately held property developments, I think your coalition was only supposed to “preservation and protection of 2,000 acres of town-owned open space”. Do you have a new charter?

  3. wingeey says:

    Read the LTE again. Dave is writing on behalf of the Newtown Conservation COALITION….a non for profit advocacy group….not the town Conservation Commission..

    1. tomj says:

      Good call! Thank you for the correction, I had mistaken his opinion as a statement from a committee but now I realize he is just speaking for I guess a facebook group. Kind of a confusing name, but yes, I should have caught it. Thanks!

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