Town Council Meeting on Monday, January 8th, 2024
Town Council Cited for Lack of Representation
Diversity Denied in all Committees and Subcommittees
Amendment to allow the Town Council chair in their sole discretion to request a response to public comment by the appropriate council member if present failed
Jim Simon: I like to talk a little bit about what’s on your new business agenda for tonight, the establishment of council committees. I was looking at your agenda carefully and in looking at the building needs committee there are three council members on the committee under your proposal and four members of the public: Daniel Senft, Bob DeLorenzo, Len Petruccelli, Rich Fredette.
I’m one of the registrars of voters in town so I have access to voter registration records and I note that Bob D Lorenzo is a Republican, Len is a Republican and Rich Fredette is a Republican, Daniel Senft is a Republican. I went on to the Public Safety Committee where I believe there are three members from the council and six members from the public, the six members again are Republicans Chris Ciuci, James Duffy, Bill Perillo, John Dobos, Jim Wiltsie, and Dave Harden who has been a Republican as well as a Democrat.
I wanted to go on to the confirmation of mayoral appointments but actually the names aren’t listed so I was at a disadvantage in trying to track them down. I bring this up because Strafford has a sorry history with both political parties over the last 30 years of using these Council committees not to get the best people in town to help advise the council, but it’s kind of a farm system, a minor league, to train people to eventually run for the Town Council in the future.
You folks have a chance to change that hopefully with this five-five split you have a spirit of bipartisanship among all of you to try to get away from stacking these committees with people only from one political party because it really stinks.
Also speaking was Sonia Devit. “the reason I’m here is looking at the agenda online for the meeting tonight, I was very concerned, it’s sort of a matter of disappointment and concern, is that of the members of the electorate of a number of the Committees that you are establishing, very crucial committees in town which have matters of policy involved as well as mechanics and things, almost all of them that I know of are virtually Republicans, and this is from the electorate, we’re not talking about council members that’s up to you, you’re elected, you have a certain proportion on the council, and you have to interact with each other and I’m am less concerned about a majority of council that are Republicans, after all there’s a majority of Republicans on the council, what concerns me is the electorate. I’m of the electorate. A lot of people I used to be on the Democratic town committee, I am not currently and shall not be in the near future, but my concern is the matters that you’re dealing with need a whole host of perspective. They need the input of people with a lot of different ideas and then you work at getting the best from that and to constitute crucial committees in town with only or almost only persons from one registered voting perspective it’s not smart and it’s not good government. The more diversity you’ve got coming as you explore issues and opportunities and things the better we do things, the more ideas we have the better perspective we may not always be right and you and the majority opinion of the registered party maybe turn out to be the best one, but it isn’t good government and it’s not fair to the people of Stratford to only take persons from one primarily one registered party – get some Independents and unaffiliated.
Town Council Discussions and Votes:
Rules of Order:
Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake: made a motion to approve and accept the Stratford Town Town Council Rules of Order and, as per the document noted that there were separate rules that were issued with our agendas. “before I vote I would like to offer an amendment that has been processed by myself as the Democrat Party leader and Mr. Llewelyn as the Republican party leader and has been uh going back and forth and with you Chairman Glad on trying to come up with a compromise on the council rules the aim and goal of the Democrats with this new Council and me as the one of the returning counselors with this new group was an emphasis on having the public comment be modified to include that we as counselors would be able to respond to the public after they finish their public comment or one of the suggestions during our negotiations is the amendment that I would like to offer which is not included in this final packet.
“I’d like to offer an amendment to add the council chair in their sole discretion can request a response to public comment by the appropriate council member if present”.
Councilman Aurelia (R) spoke against amending the rules from what was proposed “I just don’t it puts us in a good position to be answering those questions off the top of our heads that’s my opinion.”
Councilman Chris Green (D) “before being elected and as a member of the public attending a number of these public comment sessions, the reason that I and the other Democrats thought that this is a reasonable thing is that we’ve heard a lot of people ask for it. If we don’t have the full information we certainly would be free to tell the person that and say we will get back to them hopefully publicly. I find in the past the habit of hearing that we’re going to email that one person an answer that if it’s asked in public comment many people may want to know, so giving us at least the opportunity and not have it be restricted and letting the chair make the judgment about whether or not it’s appropriate to answer seemed like a reasonable halfway point and that’s why we’d proposed this motion.”
Roll call vote on amendment: Mr. O’Connor, opposed; Mr. Green, in favor, Mr. O’Neal, Aye, Miss Gibson, aye, Mr. Afriyie, Aye, Miss Whittam nay, Miss Shake yes, Mr. Llewelyn, opposed, Mr. Aurelia opposed, Chairman Glad opposed.
A 5-5 split so the motion fails.
Mayor’s Appointments for Commissions:
Longbrook Park: Christopher Green chairman; Kaitlyn Shake is a vice chairman; Paul Aurelia, councilman; James Maguire (R) reappointed for January 9th, Lou Dicilio, January 9th.
Booth Park Commission: Carl Glad, Kaitlyn Shake, Jim Connor,
Maureen Millward and Ray Voccola, is reappointed.
Roosevelt Forest: Alan Llwwelyn, councilman, Ellen Scerba-Carey, Peter J. Mariconda, Bob Ford, Peggy Nightingale, reappointments, and Dan Ruskin alternate reappointment.
Short Beach Commission is: Brian O’Connor, councilman, and Christopher Green councilman.
Redevelopment Agency: Anthony Nardo and Desmond Ndzi.
Economic and Community Development Commission: Carl Glad councilman and Anthony Afriyie councilman.
Community Development Block Grant subcommittee: Alvin O’Neal, councilman, Chairman Jason Santi, Anthony Afriyie, councilman, Kerry Whitham, councilwoman and David Harden.
Conservation Commission: Renee Gibson, councilwoman, reappointed Joe Koripsky.
Historic District Commission: Robert Atkins, Casimir Mizera, reappointed, Megan Booth reappointed as an alternate.
Short Beach Commission: Brian O’Connor, councilman, Christopher Green, Councilman.
Fair Rent Commission: Ivy Royster and Karen Marino.
Commission on Aging: Members not required for Council confirmation. Manual Torres.
Architectural Review Board: Members not required for Council confirmation: Shannon Hovan, John Zabel, Steve Law, James Milward, and Tom Sarit, all reappointments.
Questions to Mayor Hoydick regarding appointments:
Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake, this is the First Council and my third term where the pony has arrived and the list of confirmation of mayoral appointments this time included the list of each commission that you um just read off with your appointments but it did not include any names through the last several weeks of negotiations between Mr. Llewelyn, myself and Mr. Glad, Chairman, we were trying to come to a compromise on having the council members be on said committees for Council however we were not able to look at the entire picture because we were planning on being able to hopefully discuss it this weekend when the pony arrived because we didn’t know what other mayoral appointments you were thinking of wanting us to be on. Because of that we weren’t able to then go back and say “maybe we need to move, you know, said council person off of said committee so that they can do the mayoral appointment or they would decline and say that they cannot actually be on one of the mayoral appointments. That being said, that’s my first question as to why for the first time there was no list of names?
My second question is the obvious one, so the language for the Longbrook Park Commission is that the council person who resides with the park in their district is automatically chair, which poses such a unique situation because after I was redistricted to District 7 it now has Longbrook Park in it so to delineate which council person either Mr. Green in District 2, who also has Longbrook Park, or myself to be automatic chair for versus Vice chair and vice versa, so I’m curious how you got you were able to come to the conclusion of the chairmanship for Longbrook Park?
Mayor Hoydick: thank you for the question councilwoman. As the mayor and making the appointments, I took into advice your communication with Councilman Llewelyn of those who wanted interest in certain commissions appointments and acted accordingly, if there was availability. Secondly, with regard to the Longbrook Park Commission a majority of Longbrook Park is in District 2 hence according with the charter that’s why I named Councilman Green as the chair, but I’m happy to go through the town attorney’s office and ask for an opinion for the next council meeting.
Question from Councilman Green: looking at the last meeting minutes that would be commensurate with this, the first of the term, the committees were listed ahead of time in the pony and I do think, as Caitlyn mentioned, that gave the public and the council a lot more room to understand and be prepared for this. My first question in relation to that if it’s not going to come in the Pony and if it is coming in your report, which you’re reading off, is it possible for the mayor’s report to be provided to us in advance in writing because there’s a lot that you went through and we’re struggling and scribbling it down and trying to follow. If that is something you could do that might work if you are not able to provide it in time for the Pony.
My second question also looking back to the last Town Council minutes and looking at the commissions, one of the commissions that I didn’t see in the agenda or hear from you for appointments that has a vacancy and has an expired term member is the Ethics Commission, and I was curious if there’s a reason that we’re allowing an expired term and a vacant seat on that commission at this time.
Mayor Hoydick: through you chair Ethics Commission I believe the code calls for the council to seek members to serve in the Ethics Commission. I believe the council clerk is in the process of creating that advertisement and once that is done then we’ll review the applications and then move forward accordingly, and, on the January 22nd 2022 agenda I know the minutes would have the record of it but I don’t recall providing a list in the agenda.
Councilman Green, according to the website when I looked at the agenda for that meeting what I saw was the list of the I don’t know if it’s a jumbled record but the record seemed to indicate that. I would be interested in the Ethics Committee when you make a decision to put it out there.
Councilwoman Gibson — Miss Shake thank you to Madame Mayor, again sorry for that Rene, but for Longbrook Park, the current composition, as I’ve been chair for the last four years, the electorate membership there were two electorates from District 7 there were two electorates from District Two, in addition to the three council members. Of the electorates Miss Bodington resides in District 7, Mr. Dicilio resides in District 2 so in the composition of the said commission why would we not or is there a reason as to why the replacement would not be someone from District 7?
Mayor Hoydick: Miss Bodington resigned, Mr. DeCilio applied and I appointed him. Mr. Chairman, Miss Shake could we see if there are some other questions from other Members first, sorry that’s okay are there any other questions for the mayor all right seeing none…
Councilwoman Shake, thank you for your answer Madame mayor but my question was, and yes Miss Bodington did resign but in the composition of representation for Longbrook Park just historically it has been two electorates from District 7 and then two electorates from District 2, plus the three said council person whoever is elected, so yes it is your discretion, but just in past practice so that there are people are you saying that there was no one else in the last several years that applied for Longbrook Park is that just so I’m clear, that’s the question okay?
Mayor Hoydick: no I’m not saying that I’m saying that Miss Bodington just resigned and Mr. Decillio applied and I appointed him. Miss Bodington is a Republican Mr. DiCillio is a Republican, there’s other things besides, and actually we never took account where someone resides to be on the commission, that may have been your experience in the last two years or four years but that has not been my experience in the last six years. thank you
Councilman Alvin O’Neal: we have a resolution 6.2.1 Mr. Chairman on resolution 6.2.1 I’d like to make a motion to accept this being that this is in my district I definitely approve and so now therefore be it resolved by the town of the Council of the Town of Stratford that is cognizant of the Town’s Grant application to Fairfield County Community Foundation for funds to support the South End Community Centers leaders and training program, and to that it hereby authorizes directs and empowers the Mayor Laura Hoydick or her designate to execute and deliver such Grant applications including and amendments that and or any and all related documents necessary to apply for and obtain funding from Fairfield County Community Foundation and to implement the program once the award is secured in the name of and on behalf of the Town of Stratford.
The Town Council then returned to establishing committees:
Public Safety Committee
Council Members: Alvin O’Neal chairman of that committee, Mr. Green, Mr. Afriyie, Mr. Aurelia.
Electorate Members: Chris Ciuci, James Duffy, Bill Perillo, John Dobos, Jim Wiltsie, Dave Harden
Public Works Committee
Council Members: Mr. O’Neal, Ms. Whitham, Ms. Shake, Mr. Llewelyn, Mr. Aurelia.
The motion to approve the Public Works committee passes 6-4
Chairman Glad appointed Allan Llewelyn as chairman.
Board of Education Liaison Committee
Council Members: Mr. Green, Ms. Whitham, Ms. Shake, Mr. Glad
Board of Education Members: Lisa Carroll-Fabian, Sean Kennedy, Bill O’Brien
The motion to create the Board of Education liaison committee passes 6-4.
Chair appoints Kerry Whitham as the chair of that committee.
Ten (10) member Ordinance Committee consisting of all Council Members be and is hereby established.
Motion passes 7-3 to create an ordinance committee
Chair appoints Allan Llewelyn as chair
Chairman Glad: is there any discussion?
Councilman Green: I just at this point going through want to make clear what I’ve seen so far I think we have eight commissions, eight committees to go through and appoint chairs, and I understand you as the council chair have the discretion to appoint the chair of each of those commissions. We have gone through four committees, we have one Democrat, we have three Republicans. We also in the public comment for the electorate members had a mention there as well of a lack of diversity both in the representation of our chairs on these committees, and in a lack of representation of our electorate members. I don’t think it’s good for the town we also of these four we have one person already appointed twice thank you.
Chairman Glad: is there any other discussion? Seeing none we will move to approve the committee.
Editor’s Note: the following committees, committee members, and votes were predictably a 6-4 vote with overwhelming Republican members. They were: Playgrounds, and Park Projects.
Tax Partnership Screening Committee – appointed by Council Chairman
Pension Board – 7 Council Members – concurrent with term
Council Members Green, O’Neal, Gibson, Shake, Glad, Llewelyn, Aurelia approved.
Parks and Recreation Committee – Council Members – concurrent with term
Council Members Aurelia and Gibson to the Parks and Recreation Committee approved.
Zoning Board of Appeals
Andrea Lynch of Agresta Terrace appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals, for the unexpired portion of the term of René Gibson, or until the next regular town election, whichever shall be sooner.
Board of Assessment Appeals – 3 year term
Carina Krischunas-Ball of McGrath Court appointed to the Board of Assessment Appeals to the expired seat of Richard Brown with a term that expires January, 2026.
Stratford Library Association – 3 year term
Don Putrimus of Torsey Street reappointed to the Stratford Library Board.
In a vote of 6-4 the Stratford Town Council passes to confirm the mayoral appointments agenda.
Summary of Mayor’s Report to Town Council:
Mayor meeting with the Army Engine Plant developer Point Stratford renewal (PSR) next week to obtain an update on the status of the conveyance along with the Environmental Services Cooperative agreement between the Army and the developer allowing PSR to manage the remediation of the mud flats simultaneously with the upland remediation and therefore it would speed up the project to a two-year time frame once the conveyance occurs.
Contract Plating: the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development is providing funding for the removal of the waste stock piles and for further remediation requirements and expenses which was recently completed by the environmental engineering firm HRP Associates. The town will next analyze this information and will pursuit development of the property.
Complete streets phase one and the Greenway project is currently underway along Main Street to Harvey place to Academy Hill through broad West Broad Street.