At the inaugural council meeting, the Mayor and City council announced to the public that they wanted to set the City on the right track. To do so, the Mayor wished to impanel a Charter Revision commission to review areas that need to be updated. Presumably, this was meant to improve our effectiveness and efficiency in how we govern — a noble pursuit.
Yet, this Month’s council meeting highlighted maneuvering that we heard Democrats complain about this past election season. When the Mayor announced the “recommended” appointments that included one Republican with the other six being Democrats, the City Clerk immediately interjected, “isn’t that one too many Democrats.” In complete shock, the Mayor responded that one of the appointments, Laurie Scotti, had changed her affiliation to “unaffiliated” so that she could serve on the committee.
The Mayor assured the Town Clerk that this had been cleared with the registrar. Yet, the Town Clerk pressed on and informed the Mayor that there is a 3-month rule for changed party affiliation to take effect, and thus the appointments violated the law (specifically CGS § 7-190). Clearly, any career politician should have known this was the case and is universally applied to all elected and appointed position in this City.
The Mayor then suggested that the decision be tabled so the Council could figure out the difficulty of the appointment process. However, following a suggestion from the Council the six Democrats lead the charge to extend the seats from seven to nine so that Mrs. Scotti could sit on the committee.
On its face, it is dishonest to stack a committee that has the potential to shape the direction of not just one administration but for many to come. However, to arbitrarily change longstanding rules and hold steadfast allegiance to a partisan slate does raise other questions. Why does the committee need to be stacked with Democrats? Will there be a call to eliminate term limits? Will it open the door to Regionalization, or Bristol becoming a sanctuary city?
Whatever the reasons for last night’s debacle, one thing is certain; the spirit of the commission has been violated. Potential positive bipartisan reform is now blatantly partisan and the noble mantra to put us the right track has failed us in just one month.
D. Anthony Tagariello, Bristol Republican Town Committee
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