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Concerned With Actions Of EDC Chair And First Selectman



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To The Editor:

Why does the First Selectman continue trying to sell the taxpayer-owned meadow at 6 Commerce Road with blatant disregard for the transparency required by our town charter? The first of the many steps mandated by our charter when it comes to disposing of public real property, is to present a proposal to the Board of Selectman, the Legislative Council, and other commissions for their approvals. None of this has happened. Yet Mr. Capeci is meeting and negotiating with potential buyers, and prematurely spending our money on appraisals.

And why is the Chairman of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) continuing his blatant disregard for the CT Open Meetings/Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as it relates to 6 Commerce Road?

On February 20, 80-plus residents attended the EDC meeting to oppose selling 6 Commerce Road after it appeared on the agenda and before the EDC Chairman entered executive session to discuss the sales process…an apparent violation of the FOIA since a town employee with knowledge said there were no active contract negotiations then, that any public awareness could jeopardize.

At the March 19 EDC meeting, Chairman Jeffrey Robinson discussed 6 Commerce Road with no members of the public present, because he did not include it on the agenda as required by the FOIA. On the audio recording of this meeting, he acknowledges intense public interest, and says that he wants to provide his update "as quietly as he can.” If skirting the FOIA isn’t concerning enough, Mr. Robinson is also heard inappropriately mocking fellow commissioners over their past or present Democratic party affiliation throughout the meeting.

On March 19, Mr. Robinson reported that according to the town attorney, the authority he and the First Selectman thought they had to sell 6 Commerce Rd. has not existed for several years, and he confirmed they do indeed need to follow the town charter. I’m not an attorney, but I figured this out easily (and shared my findings with them), months ago. Why couldn’t they?

So, we’ve got a First Selectman out there continuing to circumvent our town charter, misleading, and misrepresenting his authority to, and negotiating in bad faith with, potential developers and potentially exposing the town to legal liability. And we’ve got an overtly partisan leader of Newtown’s Economic Development efforts who’s comfortable skirting State transparency laws and mocking others publicly for being Democrats. Do we really want these people with their questionable ethics, moral compasses and poor judgement representing and leading Newtown’s Economic Development efforts? Is it any wonder that we have no smart, cohesive, well-vetted economic development strategy in place, or that after 18 years of wasting resources on failed efforts to develop our precious meadow at 6 Commerce Rd., they are still at it?

The audio recording of the March 19 EDC meeting makes it clear that the EDC Chairman needs to step down or be removed for cause. But will Mr. Capeci remove him for his lack of respect and treating transparency the same way he treats it himself?

Dave Ackert

Sandy Hook

A letter from Dave Ackert.
Comments are open. Be civil.

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