TO THE EDITOR:
As the Weston Today article “Restaurant Equipment Tax Auction” has triggered some commentary, permit me to clear up any misunderstanding and make a few corrections to the article for the benefit of Weston taxpayers. At that time, I was private citizen Amy Jenner, not, as the story reports, “Selectwoman” Amy Jenner. I had no idea there were tax liens on the real property, and I am not in the habit of asking my friends about their tax status. Another correction: the first thing I did when I got the certified letter was call the Tax Collector, not Jim Magee as your story reports. No marshal came to my house. Just the tax collector and the tax assessor, and four or so men from the DPW who took about 1 ½ days to remove everything.
I had been volunteering at Peter’s, unpaid, for nearly a year when they closed. The landlord instructed the owners, as the article states, that everything had to be removed and the store needed to be broom clean on the final day of occupancy. Since you can’t simply throw a commercial meat grinder in the trash, I offered my friends a place to store the equipment. Nothing nefarious. Just a friend helping a friend.
The January 31st closing of the market was no secret. In fact, Weston Today published news about the closing on January 27, 2021. The news was also carried by News12, the Connecticut Post, Patch, 06880 and CTInsider. Perhaps the Tax Collector didn’t read the news. Peters Market was a part of Weston for almost 50 years. It’s simply impossible she could not have known. And it is her job to know.
What is more, on that final day the Town of Weston, her collective supervisors, delivered a Proclamation to Jim Magee acknowledging his contribution to the Town. So certainly, someone in Town Hall, within footsteps of the First Selectperson’s and Town offices were aware that the store was closing.
To be perfectly clear, at the very time that we were loading the items into a truck to meet the eviction deadline; a town official was out front giving the family this award for their years of service to our community.
So where was the Tax Collector when the store closed? Why was there not a state marshal at the store closing to seize the property? Where was the warrant? If there was a lien on the real property in the market that was being disassembled and removed, why didn’t she execute the lien at the time? She is in charge of keeping track of Town liens and ensuring we execute on them when appropriate.
It is reported that ‘the location of the equipment became known only recently, at least to the Tax Collector’. Did she make any inquiries for two years regarding the location of the encumbered property?
Two years have passed with the real property having been one mile away from Town Hall, having been loaded onto a truck in plain sight of our town selectmen — by a group of Weston citizens.
It was an act of friendship on my part.
It was gross negligence and dereliction of duty on the part of the Tax Collector.
And a weak attempt to use your pages to embarrass me, which it hasn’t.
— Amy Jenner
Ms. Jenner appears to believe the article was about her. It was not.
To our knowledge, the Town has never before seized and auctioned personal business property to satisfy a tax delinquency. A report merely announcing an unusual auction, without context, would have inevitably raised questions. In fact, we received a number of questions after the auction notice was first published by the Town. Our story answers them.
Ms. Jenner accuses us of using our pages to embarrass her. In fact, the story was painstakingly written and edited to avoid embarrassing anyone.
In our conversation with Ms. Jenner on September 16, she pleaded with us to not report her involvement or to at least say the equipment was held “by a citizen” instead of her by name. That too would have raised questions. And, we have (or at least assign to ourselves) a duty of candor. So do public officials.
Our efforts to avoid having our story embarrass anyone appear to have succeeded. Ms. Jenner says “it hasn’t.”
Ms. Jenner claims that our story reported that, after receiving the certified letter from the Tax Collector, she first contacted Mr. Magee. That is false.
Our story merely reported that she contacted Mr. Magee. It neither mentioned nor speculated about the sequence of contacts she may have initiated. She now writes that she first contacted the Tax Collector. That may be the case, but she did not say so in our conversation.
It is not our place to comment on Ms. Jenner’s insinuations about the Tax Collector or her “collective supervisors.” We do not have the impression that the Tax Collector is Batman, swooping down on tax delinquents, especially at a public ceremony.
Ms. Jenner errs in this regard as well. The proclamation, issued in undeniably difficult circumstances, honored the family’s history in Weston, not Mr. Magee specifically. This was perhaps due to an awareness of the longstanding tax issues. We do not know. At any rate, it is hard to see the relevance of it to this story.
Ms. Jenner’s accusation that the Tax Collector was negligent and derelict in her duty may be a more serious matter. It is, at the very least, in the gray area of our Letters policy, which states that letters must be civil and must not disparage others or appear vindictive.
On this matter the record is abundantly clear. Over the course of many years, the Tax Collector made every reasonable effort to notify the taxpayer and demand payment. Those efforts were unsuccessful.
Also unsuccessful, as alluded to in our story, was an attempt earlier in 2020 to attach funds in a bank account. That effort was thwarted, as we understand it, by the bank, whose own liens appear to have been legally superior to the Town’s.
Finally, the record is clear that the moment the Tax Collector finally learned where the equipment was located — in Ms. Jenner’s barn — she acted promptly.
Our story stands as reported, without need of correction.
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