Wendy Martinenas is a National Association of Realtors "green designee" and a certified EcoBroker. She has launched a website, SnappyGreen.com, on eco-friendly, or :"green living." And she is a member of the Green Resource Council, the CT Green Building Council, the Southwestern CT Green Building Council and Green Towns. She's also been a member of the town's Earth Day Committee.
But at Monday's Representative Town Meeting session, member Ellen Jacob, R-9, preferred that, instead of Martinenas, "a suitable candidate" be appointed to an opening on the municipal Solid Waste & Recycling Commission.
Martinenas' appointment to the solid waste panel to fill a vacancy created when Marc Patten left to take a seat on the RTM caused a minor uproar. As a result, vote on her appointment was postponed to the RTM's Oct. 22 meeting by a vote of 30-15. The term that Matinenas would be filling expires in November of this year, and she said despite the RTM action she still intends to pursue the opportunity.
Amy Mezoff, R-4, said she was concerned that Martinenas' "really hadn't progressed much in finding out what the job is about." And in her application for appointment, Martinenas "misnamed" the chairman of that commission, Mezoff said.
While the seats on town boards are voluntary, Mezoff said, "These are important positions in this town." Appointees, she said, should do their homework, and she plans to vote "no" on Martinenas' appointment.
Candidates for appointments to town boards and commission are now given a standard questionnaire to fill out that asks how they learned of the position, why they are interested and what can they contribute; if they have spoken with any members of the board or the appropriate department head; if they've read a description of the board's role and responsibilities; if they have any conflict of interest in serving on a public board; if they know when the board meets and can they fulfill the obligations of accepting a public appointment, and if they are a registered voter and have a political affiliation.
According to Martinenas' questionnaire, she learned about the position from Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey. While she had not attended any of the solid waste board's meetings or reviewed past minutes, she said she planned to contact Sharon Pistilli, the commission chairwoman. Martinenas indicated she does not believe she has any conflict of interest, but had not read a written description of the waste board's role, but added she would like to.
In addition, Martinenas said she is available for Monday night meetings of the commission, and if that regular meeting night changed, her schedule is somewhat flexible. Martinenas said she was not sure if she was fully aware of all the obligations of the position in order to comment.
An unaffiliated voter, she said she would like to know more about the mission of the panel and its overall objectives, as well as its current active projects.
"I think it's pretty clear cut," Jacob said, when a motion was made to postpone the vote. "I don't want to drag this out." Jacob said Martinenas was unable to appear before all of the RTM committees, while other candidates for other boards have been able to comply.
"It's not brain surgery," she said. "The questions are not difficult."
But Ann Stamler, D-5, said Martinenas had updated the answers to some of the questions, and questions that she orignally answered "no" are now answered affirmatively.
"The candidate did not appear before our committees," said Carolyn Richmond, R-1. "That was what our concern was."
Matinenas herself said she has been approached on more than one occasion to volunteer, first by a member of the commission and most recently by Vahey.
"My best assessment is that this turn of events is due to a lack of communication combined with my inability to attend the meeting," Matinenas said. "This is a good fit for me as it is in line with my personal and business principles."
First Selectman Michael Tetreau said he understood the RTM members' concerns, but added Martinenas is very committed to preserving the environment, to conservation and to helping out the town. "She's very knowledgeable in this area," he said, but was unable to attend all the RTM committee meetings or Monday's RTM session because of prior commitments. "I wouldn't question her commitment," Tetreau said.
Patten said he recalled his own performance before RTM committees. "I embarrassed myself before one committee," he said, while he thought he "hit a home run" at another, "and it wasn't because I wasn't qualified."