Letter: Fairfield malfeasance
Published 10:46 am, Sunday, January 15, 2012
The comments coming out of our Board of Selectmen in response to the "secret letter" revelation described in last Wednesday's Citizen are yet another example of how serious malfeasances are constantly "swept under the rug" by town officials.
This secret letter made it obvious that both former First Selectman Flatto and former Town Attorney Saxl had apparently misled both the state and the RTM. The state had requested that the town relinquish its $6 million share of parking revenues until the state recouped the $19.4 million it would pay to finish the project. Flatto and Saxl apparently agreed to this request without seeking RTM input concerning this serious loss of revenue. However, to protect itself, the state asked Flatto and Saxl if the RTM had approved their authority to make the agreement. In response, Saxl, in vague and inaccurate language, led the state to believe the RTM had given its approval on May 24, 2010 when he knew that was not true. Excuses which strain credulity were later offered by Flatto and Saxl.
So, what was the response of our Board of Selectmen to this startling revelation? Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey's summed it up as follows:
"Which essentially leaves us with we are where we are." With a train station open but important lessons learned from the mistakes that were made, she said, "I'm looking at what's our goal going forward from here."
That statement is a classic example of the "just sweep it under the rug" policy that is too often foisted upon innocent taxpayers who must bear the consequences. These were not simply "mistakes." They are yet another example of the failures by Flatto and Saxl to adequately protect town interests on the Metro project.
In response to Selectman Vahey's question, the goal going forward should be sending a message that official malfeasance will no longer be swept under the rug by taking these steps:
Saxl should be removed from all pending matters in which he continues to represent the town.
The town should explore filing an ethics complaint against Flatto and Saxl.
Contractual defaults by Blackrock Realty should no longer be swept under the rug. After forcing the state and the town to pay for its defaults, Blackrock now stands poised to begin its commercial development and reap its profits while escaping liability for failing to perform its contractual obligations. The town (and the state) should explore suing Blackrock for the costs incurred because of Blackrock's defaults. The tripartite agreement raises serious questions concerning Blackrock's liability that could be decided either way by a jury if litigated. Filing such a suit would give the town considerable leverage to obtain a settlement from Blackrock.
History has made it clear that the policy of sweeping official malfeasances under the rug never works to prevent future abuses. It only leaves the taxpayers holding the bag. It's time to reject that policy by pursuing every means to enforce accountability.