Bid to censure Flatto, Saxl over Fairfield Metro roles derailed
Republicans on the Representative Town Meeting, in a move that caught Democrats by surprise Monday night, tried to pass a resolution to censure the former first selectman and his town attorney for their handling of revised agreements on construction of the town's third railroad station.
The resolution failed, however, when the GOP failed to garner the necessary two-thirds majority vote. The final tally was 25 in favor and 12 against, with nine abstentions.
The nine-paragraph resolution introduced by Majority Leader David Becker, R-1, stated that it was the "intent of the Representative Town Meeting body that former First Selectman (Kenneth) Flatto and Town Attorney (Richard) Saxl should not be permitted to serve on any Fairfield governmental body or committee in the future."
The sense-of-the body resolution did not have the force of law and, even if it had been approved, would not necessarily have prevented either Flatto or Saxl from serving on a town body in the future.
The proposal targeted Flatto and Saxl for their role in revising a 2010 agreement with the state on jump-starting construction of the Fairfield Metro railroad station. Terms of the agreement, however, were not properly approved by all the required bodies, an independent counsel later determined. Under the pact, the town became liable for millions of dollars in construction cost overruns that were discovered last spring shortly after Flatto left to take a state job.
Michael Herley, R-1, said the town needs accountability, assurances and to move forward from the controversy that engulfed Fairfield Metro last year. Based on the facts, Herley said he does not believe it would be fruitful to seek legal recourse against the former officials for lying in a letter to the Department of Transportation that stated the RTM was aware of and approved changes to the train station agreements, including a change in revenue generated by commuter parking fees.
Nevertheless, Herley said neither Flatto nor Saxl should be given a free pass by the RTM.
But RTM Democrats -- both Flatto and Saxl are Democrats -- after calling for a 10-minute caucus, took issue with the fact they had just received the one-page resolution at the Monday meeting, and the fact those recommended for censure were not being given a chance to defend themselves.
Kenneth Lee, D-10, said he was personally appalled when he learned of the deception by Flatto and Saxl. "However, we live in a democracy, and the foundation in a democracy is fair representation and due process," Lee said. "This is none of those."
Gaylord Meyer, R-1, said she was raised to be accountable, and she found Flatto and Saxl's behavior was unacceptable. "He lied, he withheld information and that's OK? That's not OK with me," she said.
Flatto had a supporter in Jay Wolk, D-6, who urged the RTM to focus on the positive things from Flatto's tenure as first selectman. "Again, we're not condoning what he did," Wolk said. There was no embezzlement, nothing stolen, he said. "We need to move forward. We're not throwing this under the rug."
"I'm as outraged as many are," said Chris Brogan, D-6, "about the behavior here." But he said he could not support the resolution. "It's a fundamental issue of fairness. They have a right to be heard."
Carol Way, R-10, however, said that the pair had "every opportunity to let us know what they had done. They knew about this letter, they never shared it with us, they never made any sort of apology. The point is they needed to 'fess up and nobody did."