TO THE EDITOR:
I attended the Board of Selectmen meeting on October 19th and, as a former Selectman, feel it is important to comment on two aspects of the meeting as the Town readies itself for elections on November 7th.
First, I found the comment by Selectman Mohabeer that the Board of Selectmen is a “Board of equals” to be extremely misleading. While all three members of the Board of Selectmen do indeed each have one vote and the Board does serve as the legislative body of the Town (in tandem with the Town Meeting as necessary), it is crystal clear in the Weston Town Charter (Section 5.1) that the First Selectman “shall be the Chief Executive and Administrative Officer of the Town.”
The responsibilities of the First Selectman are clearly enumerated in the Town Charter and distinguish the role from that of the other two Selectmen. These include, among others, maintaining a direct relationship with State, regional and federal agencies, having direct management oversight of the Town Administrator, preparing and presenting the Town’s operating budget for presentation to the Board of Selectmen, overseeing expenditures, declaring states of emergency, and ensuring that all actions taken by the Town’s legislative body are appropriately executed.
In addition, the First Selectman serves as an ex-officio member of all Town Boards, Commissions and Committees. It is also the First Selectman’s responsibility to determine the Agenda for the Board of Selectmen’s meetings, and it is this responsibility that the other two current Selectmen have on numerous occasions attempted to circumvent by voting to add items to the Agenda during the public meeting.
State law in Connecticut and across the country is quite clear that government meeting agendas are to be made available to the public in advance of the meeting so that members of the public are aware of, and can participate (through attendance) in, discussions of matters on the Agenda. Adding items to the Agenda without prior public notice is a direct violation of the concept of open public meetings, but which has sadly been used on multiple occasions over the past two years.
It is a practice that should not be acceptable in Weston, and whoever is elected to the Board of Selectmen should commit to adherence to the letter and spirit of public meeting laws, avoiding addition of last-minute items to Agendas in all but emergency situations, to ensure that transparency in Town government is maintained, and to ensure that the responsibilities of the First Selectman as outlined in the Town Charter are respected.
— David Muller
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