Selectmen appoint Greene as town clerk

Audit report center of controversy

Former state representative Len Greene Sr. was appointed Monday night to replace former Town Clerk Kurt Novak, who resigned earlier this month. –RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — By a vote of 2-1, the Board of Selectmen appointed Len Greene Sr. as town clerk to replace former Town Clerk Kurt Novak, who resigned earlier this month.

Kurt Novak, a Republican who has served as town clerk since 2002, submitted his resignation March 15. It took effect the following day. In his resignation letter, he stated that it’s with “mixed emotions” that he informs the Board of Selectmen of his decision.

“Recent personal and profound events in my life have made it impossible for me to give the town clerk’s office the attention it requires and deserves,” he wrote. “The recent unexpected death of my younger sister and the deterioration of my elderly parent’s health have added to my already full plate. At this time, I need to give my family and personal matters my undivided attention.”

The board held a special meeting Monday night to name Novak’s replacement. While it was a split vote, the controversy was not over the candidates for the position but over the town’s audit report, particularly the audit of the town clerk’s office.

Three residents expressed interest to the board in filling the clerk position. They were Jeremy Rodorigo, a Republican who is one of three assistant town clerks and serves as spokesman for Beacon Hose Company No. 1, Region 16 Board of Education Chair Priscilla Cretella, an unaffiliated voter who has served on the school board for 25 years, and Greene, a Republican who has served the town as state representative, selectman, and treasurer.

On Monday, Rodorigo withdrew his name from consideration in an letter to First Selectman Gerard Smith.

“I felt that in my position as assistant town clerk it was an obligation to see that the office remain functional for the benefit of the community,” Rodorigo stated in the letter. “It was never my intention to seek the elected position at the end of the term.”

Rodorigo stated in the letter that he withdrew his name due to an e-mail circulated among members of the Democratic Town Committee. Rodorigo stated in the letter the e-mail alleges or asserts that he was involved in or knew about impropriety within the clerk’s office.

Smith read a copy of the e-mail sent to committee members for the record. The e-mail stated that although the official word is Novak resigned for personal reasons that is not the real reason. The e-mail encouraged members to attend Monday night and ask questions to find out why Novak resigned, why he was not asked to resign earlier, and question Rodorigo about what he knows about Novak’s resignation and how involved he was. The e-mail also encouraged members to question the results of the audit report on the clerk’s office.

The audit report was expected to be discussed at a second meeting last night, but due to a posting error it was never put on the meeting’s agenda. The board is scheduled to meet tonight at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to accept the auditor’s report.

The report was not made public last night. Exactly what is in the report remains unclear as of this post. When reached for comment Tuesday morning, Smith felt it was best to wait until tonight’s meeting to discuss the audit.

“Needless to say this e-mail both infuriated and disgusted me,” Rodorigo stated in the letter. “It is because of this e-mail that I withdraw my name from consideration.”

In the letter, Rodorigo stated he refuses to play politics at the risk of his personal reputation and integrity.

In a subsequent interview Tuesday morning, Rodorgo said many members of the Democratic party approached him last night and apologized to him.

“I believe they were sincere,” he said.

During the meeting, Selectman Chris Bielik said he spoke with Rodorigo prior to the board meeting.

“I assured him that the Board of Selectmen in no way feels that any result of actions that may have precipitated Mr. Novak’s resignation in any way reflects on him or the job that he was doing as assistant town clerk,” Bielik said.

After Rodorigo’s name was withdrawn from consideration, Selectman David D’Amico made a motion to appoint Greene. The motion was seconded by Smith.

Bielik felt the board should defer making the appointment until after the board receives the auditor’s report. He said receipt of the report is possibly important information that the people of the town need before the board makes its decision.

Smith felt the appointment and the auditor’s report are two separate issues.

Smith and D’Amico voted in favor of appointing Greene, and Bielik voted against it. Greene will finish out Novak’s term, which will expire with the November 2013 municipal election.

The Republican American contributed to this article.