Letter: First Selectman responds to article

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To the editor,

I wish to address the one-sided and inaccurate reporting of the February Beacon Falls Board of Selectmen meeting. In the Feb. 17 article describing the appointment of a new member to the Board of Finance, Laraine Weschler did not list the new appointee’s qualifications until well into the article, but lies and innuendo filled the first-page column. The reporter attended the meeting, but much of her information came from a few highly partisan members of the Beacon Falls Democratic Town Committee who were present. I wish that more registered Democrats in town who care about the issues and not one-upmanship would become involved in the DTC and infuse it with fresh air and new blood.

Twice now, the DTC has plotted to slip appointments through the system, side-stepping proper procedure in an effort to hinder my leadership. I was elected First Selectman because the majority of voters in Beacon Falls trust me to lead, to bring this town into the 21st century, and to dispense of an old and worn culture of game playing.

I will now address the libelous twisting of the truth by Selectman Chris Bielik and DTC Chair Kathy Grace.

The Democrats ran a candidate for the Board of Finance who never attended a meeting. I called him to find out why I haven’t seen him, and he seemed surprised that I did not know that he had tendered a letter of resignation to Peter Betkoski, brother of the former Democratic First Selectman; Peter is not connected with either the Board of Finance or the Board of Selectman. I assumed that Selectman Bielik knew about the letter, but he said not a word. As First Selectman, it is essential that I am made aware of all board resignations as soon as possible.

Nonetheless, to give Mr. Bielik the benefit of doubt, I requested that the resignee send me a copy of his letter, which I then placed in Mr. Bielik’s mailbox; still no word.

I had received a letter of intent to run for a seat on the Board of Finance from Jack Levine, whom I have long desired to see on that board; his vast experience and his lack of partisanship make him the ideal candidate. The upcoming budget cycle will be rough, and I need the best qualified individuals I can get to serve on the board. I immediately sent Mr. Bielik the letter, placing it in his mailbox myself, affording him the professional courtesy that he has withheld from me from day one. Incredibly, Mr. Bielik never acknowledged receipt of either letter.

Still no word, until 6 p.m. the night of the meeting, when I was surprised by an email from Bielik regarding someone they had chosen (as in the December meeting when Bielik attempted a political maneuver with another Board of Finance appointment, just minutes before the meeting, by switching the name of a Democratic Town Committee-vetted candidate with that of Arthur Daigle; Jim Huk, the vetted candidate, was, however, subsequently elected).

I read their candidate’s strong qualifications, which I will remember as other openings appear on town boards, but Jack Levine has greater expertise in the area of budgets and projections, which are needed on the Board of Finance; the board elected Levine.

Mr. Bielik was furious and spoke several times at the meeting, railing against Levine’s appointment, insisting that the Democrats should select the new member. He spoke at length, but the only word I remember him uttering is “Democrat.” Apparently it is irrelevant to our minority member that Beacon Falls has been gifted with an individual of Jack Levine’s expertise in professional budgeting, who is willing to serve the town in a thankless role on the Board of Finance.

If Selectman Bielik and his party were so insistent on selecting the new member, when they were presented with Levine’s letter, they should have told me that they had someone else in mind. In town matters, I am open and I reveal everything I know as soon as I know it. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about the minority selectman and the chairman of the DTC. It is ironic that it is my actions that have been labeled “unethical.”

I am disappointed that the DTC chairman sees fit to trivialize my personal testimony of the calling to run for this office in the first place. Regarding a further quote in last week’s highly inaccurate article, I would be happy to explain the non-reappointment of the prior chairman to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and to discuss the clerk who really wielded the gavel on that commission.

Finally, in response to the accusation that I have an agenda, you bet I do. My agenda remains as ever, to put Beacon Falls first.

Gerry Smith

First Selectman, Beacon Falls

6 COMMENTS

  1. That’s exactly the problem. There should be no debate about showing respect ! It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, or who wins or loses. If we treat each other with the utmost respect, we’ll get more done.

    The fact that the incumbent First Selectwoman, who had served for years, didn’t garner enough support to maintain a position on the board is indeed a loud and clear call for change.

  2. Spell check anyone?

    To make a claim that the people of Beacon Falls sent a message loud and clear would be a tad bit misleading. Unless 90+ votes these days constitutes making a statement. People should in general stop waving flags for a moment and realize that it is inclusivity that leads to progress. The debate of who shows more respect, who is right, and who will do what, all keep the community from taking the steps forward that in the end benefit everyone.

    Last time I checked it was a big ‘I’ next to my name. I had issues at times with previous administrations and in this 60 day experiment have issues here as well.

    My hope is that in the end silly catch phrases like putting town first, real progress, and leadership that matters really live up to those that spin it.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but I agree with Mike !!! The people of Beacon Falls spoke LOUDLY and CLEARLY in November and people like Ms. Anita and Ms. Kathy G. don’t seem to have heard the message. My three year old daughter does better in the “plays well with others” category than these over-aged children.

    “Mr. Transparency has never contacted me,” Grace said. REALLY ???

    “The election of these two men is a sad commentary on the residents of Beacon Falls who voted them into office.” REALLY ??? (and this one from an adjunct instructor at the college level and a senior executive in a company with significant ties to the town!)

    Ms. Anita is partially right though. There IS a sad commentary in the mix here.

    On bahalf of the all parents here in Beacon Falls, if you can’t disagree RESPECTFULLY, then please disagree SILENTLY. If you can’t disagree respectully, we’re not interested in what you have to say.

  4. I certainly do hope that the Voters of Beacon Falls remember Ms Anita’s outragious insult towards them for not voting for their team last November. She is a member of the Democratic Town Committee and comments like this show their arrogance and lack of respect for the people of of this community. Comments like these are another reason why Beacon Falls voted for the Team that will put Beacon Falls First.

  5. Our new First Selectman is thinned skinned. Can’t take an ounce of criticism and one has to wonder who really writes the monthly letters, perhaps a prior first selectman. Between the two new republicans heading this town back in time, you have to wonder if they can write a sentence together with substance. Wish he spent more time in the office and less time defending himself. FYI – the letter in December was a joke, the busy month of duties he listed was a handful of tasks managed by the previous administration. The election of these two men is a sad commentary on the residents of Beacon Falls who voted them into office. Appears that progress will just have to wait.

  6. If anyone should know about dealing with resignations from town boards it would be this guy.

    And a general question? When did the LTTE feature become a monthly soapbox for town politicians? Shouldn’t one’s actions speak louder than words? Just seems to be a lot of words.