The Aug. 16 Conservation Commission meeting was fraught with contention between the chairman and the public, including four members of the Fairfield RTM. The controversy over the recent Supreme Court decision on the role of the conservation director provoked questions and comments throughout the public session. My purpose in writing this letter is not to take a position on that issue. I was appalled and disgusted by the treatment of the public by chairman Gumpper.
Gumpper showed absolute disrespect to most speakers. His statements, body language, head gestures and arrogant flippancy inflamed a cross-section of the public who do not understand the commission's position on the role of the conservation director. Gumpper refused to substantially address any questions on the matter. His behavior, especially to the RTM members who are important representatives of Fairfield citizens, was disgraceful and laced with disdain. It was also appalling to see his dismissive and condescending treatment of Joy Shaw, a mild mannered and widely respected environmental advocate with decades of history serving Fairfield.
Gumpper lacked the dignity that anyone attending a town meeting has a right to expect from a town board member. As an attorney, Gumpper must be well aware of common, decent modes of demeanor, but he chose instead to act in an ill-mannered and intemperate manner. Even his procedural behavior was roughshod and abrupt. He was late for this meeting, keeping all the other commissioners and the public waiting, but he brought the meeting to order without a word of apology.
This is not a new issue with Gumpper. During his time chairing the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, he occasionally erupted against the public in the same disgraceful manner. It seems that Gumpper views the public's right to speak at conservation and zoning meetings as nothing more than an annoyance when he would prefer to rapidly render decisions that are often favorable to developers and that ignore valid citizen concerns.
Chairman Gumpper was not elected. First Selectman Tetreau appointed him. I call on the First Selectmen to review the tapes of the conservation meeting and to speak to the RTM members who were treated so poorly by Gumpper. The result of the first selectman's review should be a demand for Gumpper's immediate resignation. It will be very revealing of the standards of our first selectman if he endorses Gumpper's pitiful behavior by allowing Gumpper to remain chairman of the Conservation Commission.