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Selectman Calls Zoning Appointment 'Patronage'

Republican Selectman George Walker cried foul over the Board's decision to appoint Larry Miller to Zoning over the GOP choice at Tuesday's meeting.

After an exchange that became heated and accusatory at times Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted 2-1 to transfer resident Larry Miller from his position on the Inland Wetlands Commission to fill a Republican vacancy on the Zoning Commission, denying the recommendation of the Republican Town Committee (RTC) and Republican Selectman George Walker to promote a newly appointed alternate on Zoning, Jeff Cordisco.

While discussing appointments at the end of their monthly agenda Tuesday, Walker questioned the wisdom of going against the RTC and Zoning and bringing in a new commission member rather than appointing from within. Walker also asserted that the choice of Miller seemed like political patronage for his financial and personal support of First Selectman Bill Davidson during recent elections.

Davidson denied these assertions, vehemently at times, stating that Miller is simply more experienced in zoning issues and will be an asset to the board. The Zoning Commission’s former chairman, William Mercer (R), resigned recently after moving to Pennsylvania to be closer to family, creating the vacancy.

“With no disrespect to Mr. Miller, he does not attend Zoning Commission meetings — he will have a learning curve that may or may not be equivalent to what Jeff Cordisco has in getting up to speed,” Walker said. “The message that something like this will send to the volunteers is, ‘Don’t bother volunteering’ because there is not a progression… I don’t see why Mr. Miller would do a better job than Mr. Cordisco on this.”

“I want Jeff Cordisco to stay on Zoning,” Davidson said. “But he needs more experience.”

According to Davidson, Cordisco’s seven months as an alternate on Zoning is insufficient for the needs of the commission, which he contends lacks experience as a whole.

“If you look at the composition of the Zoning Commission, we don’t have any long term members there,” he said. (Senior member of the commission, Ryan Blessey, was appointed to an alternate position in 2006 and has been a full member since 2009.)

“I mean him no disservice, but when you compare the resumes of Mr. Cordisco and Mr. Miller for this position, to me they’re night and day.” [See attached bios.]

“The most important single criteria [when making an appointment] is what does that person bring to that board or commission,” Davison continued. “We need to get the most experienced people available, period.”

“You can’t just ignore the Republican Party,” Walker said. “This is a Republican position.”

Though Miller is a registered Republican, he left the RTC in May 2011 over disagreements with the direction of the local party.

“He is a registered Republican, but he is tearing down the Republican Party locally and the RTC,” Walker asserted, speaking over interruptions. “It’s important that this community understand what’s going on — this is patronage.”

“You be careful, Mr. Walker,” Davidson warned of making such accusations. “You be damn careful.”

[See more of their conversation in the video attached above.]

Patronage or Politics?

After the meeting, Walker said that the appointment appeared to be patronage for Miller’s political support in the past, including acting as one of the founding members of the bipartisan Brookfield’s Best Candidates (BBC) PAC, which , though the majority were running on the Democratic line or running for unopposed seats.

Walker also noted that Miller was one of the primary financial contributors to the PAC and the Davidson-Lasser campaign.

[Editor's Note: According to the Town Clerk's Office, Miller did not contribute directly to the Davidson or Lasser campaigns but was involved with the BBC PAC.]

“When you totally ignore what the RTC and its vacancy committee and the Zoning Commission itself 100 percent endorsed, that smacks of patronage,” Walker said.

Davidson denied these accusations, as did Miller, who, reached Wednesday, said that Walker’s comments were “consistent with what the RTC has become.”

Miller, who spent five years on the RTC, and just short of four years as chair of the Vacancy Committee before abdicating the position to Walker in 2011, said he did support Davidson in the last election, “as many Republicans did.”

“Who I contribute to in any campaign is my business — and I support Bill Davidson,” he said, unabashedly.

The Brookfield Republican Party, he continued, “Seems to have forgotten that Bill Davidson served this town as a Republican,” before switching to Unaffiliated and running for First Selectman on the Democratic line in 2009.

“The RTC is looking for every opportunity to politicize anything and everything,” he said, and, though the seat is reserved for a Republican, personal politics should not be a factor in zoning.

Miller said in his 10 years on Wetlands (four as chairman), he “never encountered a situation where things got political” in a zoning case.

The series of events have left Cordisco a bit turned around.

“I was all set to jump on board as a full-time member,” he said Wednesday after speaking with Walker about what transpired the night before. “I don’t necessarily understand it but I’ll agree with it,” he added, as the final decision rests with the majority vote of the BOS.

“On face value it is a bit discouraging,” Cordisco said in reference to Walker’s assertion that this may dissuade others from volunteering as alternates. However, having served on the commission for a few months now, he said he is excited to continue working on zoning issues and hopes to become a full member in the future.

The BOS also appointed Mara Frankel (D), a Zoning Enforcement Officer for the town of New Fairfield and member of a number of area zoning boards [see bio attached above], to the Zoning Commission as an alternate member in a vote of 2-0, with Walker abstaining.

Ryen September 06, 2012 at 06:49 PM
What an embarrassment! (Place the emphasis on the proper syllable!) Billy Davidson uses his own administration as an example of appointments being made against a parties reasonable nomination. HA! When in HISTORY did you ever see a "political person" using their own administration or tenure to hold up as an "example" of such a practice? Anyone who works or operates in town government (or any other level) knows that is not done--just not done. Billy holding up his own decisions (alongside an H-puppet) as "tradition" is just comical....
Ryen September 06, 2012 at 07:03 PM
No matter what the issue is, Howard Lasser is guaranteed to jump in and make one of these claims: 1. "I am always pure." 2. "I am always objective." 3. "I am never argumentative." 4. "I am ALWAYS for the best of Brookfield." (Or substitute the word "Democrats" or "Unaffiliateds" in the above sentences in place of the word "I".) When anyone else speaks up about an issue or raises their opinion--when it is contrary to Mr. Lasser's ideas--he either adopts a patronizing tone ("Oh, I have to explain "the Truth" to this person now...) or labels the person as a stereotype and calls them "argumentative". Is it just me--or has anyone else seen this pattern? Every conservative, Republican, contrary, or alternate opinion is patronized or painted my Lasser as "argumentative bickering". Back to the immediate point: Lasser is a "engineer-type" lap puppy for the Davidson, liberal, progressive, pro-school with no holds barred agenda. Davidson is out to tarnish and try to destroy the Republicans big-time...this aberration of an appointment in one more example....they will not be happy until Brookfield is ruined.
Ryen September 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
It is crystal clear that no one is questioning the experience or abilities of either person--Mr. Miller or Mr. Cordisco! That is not the issue. The issue is the tradition of respect and appointing the qualified person from the party committee. It is always done that way. Not only did Billy Davidson NOT appoint the QUALIFIED RTC nominee presented to him--supported by Lasser--but he also went away from the immediate alternate to an entirely different committee. It is not about who is a good person for the job--it is about the lengths that Billy Davidson will go to be the political brute he will --with a straight face -- say he is not. Pure and simple.
Michelle September 06, 2012 at 07:38 PM
This is just a gleaming example of how the town of Brookfield is being run by the good ole' boys. With Boss Hogg aka Mr. Davidson running the show with no regard of whats in the best interest of our town. It is quite clear that Mr. Davidson has his own agenda. It has been brewing for some time with glimmers of his agenda showing. Now, it shines like a bedazzeled jean jacket from the 80's. It is a shameful display. I am honestly starting to wonder if Mr. Lasser has any thoughts of his own, as he continues to mirror everything Mr. Davidson supports. Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the biggest fool of them all? As for the blatent disregard of consideration of our fine community member Jeff Cordisco, I am left disenchanted with our town politics. It is a grotesque display of dificient ethics.
Brian September 06, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Gotta love small town politic...well, not really. Forget all the comments here, the less than exemplary behavior of our BOS and the disfunctional political system of Republicans vs Democrates (and in this case a bit of Republican vs Republican). I encourage everyone to take the 10mins and look at the 3 resumes posted here. To me the bottom line is getting the best person for the position and experience has a lot to do with that. Nothing against Mr Cordisco who does have a great record of volunteering and being a very involved citizen of Brookfield (kudos to you Mr Cordisco), but as far as experience for the specific position at this point in time, from their resumes one would have to conceed the experienced candidates are Mr Miller and Ms Frankel. BTW: The one encouraging line in the whole story was from Mr Cordisco who said he is excited to continue working on zoning issues and hopes to become a full member in the future. Other's should take note of Mr Cordisco's behavior and comments. He doesn't stoop to the negative comments and acquisations.
Michelle September 06, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I have known Jeff Cordisco for more than 20 years. He is a great man with excellent integrity, character and stellar problem solving skills. Jeff is extremely hardworking and dedicated to the town of Brookfield and has been since I met him. He is generous, intelligent, kind and goes above and beyond in all his work. He has shown his outstanding talents in all his community and professional career'. There is no one who even comes close within these candidates as Jeff's commitment to community service speaks for itself. It is a huge loss for Brookfield as he was disregarded and passed over for special interest political paddy cake.
Jerry Friedrich September 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Jane, if what you say about not being able to be interviewed for his existing seat actually occurred, then I agree, that is wrong. But, I have to say, some of the e-mails I have seen that have been attributed to him is also wrong. We need to stop this anger and understand that their are different opinions and we must respect one another.
Michelle September 06, 2012 at 08:23 PM
KUDOS to Mr. Walker!!! Thank you sir, for having the courage to call out this undesirable and eye opening political puppetry.
Howard Lasser September 06, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I am reminded of an interview I read many years ago. Dick Army, upon leaving congress to return to a university teaching position was asked about the politics in a university setting. He replied that it was much worse than in congress “because the stakes are much lower”. We should all just take a breath and relax. The comments posted here represent the kind of behavior we would not tolerate from our children. I just ask you, before you impugn someone’s integrity and their honor you stop and ask yourself, do you have all the facts? Is this something you would say to the person directly? If the only way you would say it is behind the mask of anonymity it is probably better off not said at all.
Catherine Malek September 06, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Dr. Robin Appleby states: "Please show us where the Brookfield RTC endorsed Mr. Shaker or withdraw your statement." What am I missing? I just replayed my voice message from Harry Shaker, and twice he stated he was the Republican endorsed candidate. I still have his mailing and the RTC endorsement is mentioned twice on that as well. This article seems to state the same. http://brookfield.patch.com/articles/gop-convention-endorses-shaker-for-107th-video ???
Matt Grimes September 06, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Mrs. Malek. Read the article very carefully that you posted. Dr. Appleby is correct - RTC did not endorse either Mr. Shaker or Mr. Scribner. Mr. Shaker was endorsed by 6 of the 10 delegates to the 107th convention, he was not endorsed by the Republican Town Committee. 7 Brookfield RTC members, 2 Bethel RTC members, and 1 Danbury RTC member were delegates. The entire party endorsement was decided by those 10 delegates. 18 of 25 RTC members had no vote on this endorsement. The RTC's only role was to appoint 7 delegates - we did that and each was free to vote however they wished, Unlike other RTC's, we do not bind our delegates by forcing them to vote a certain way - it's their decision. RTC took no side in any of the offices contested in the primary - it's against our state by-laws to do that. After the primary, we unanimously endorsed all three winners.
Catherine Malek September 06, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Okay, thanks for the clarification, Matt!
David Propper September 06, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Ryen, just because somebody has a different vision of Brookfield than you does not mean that "they will not be happy until Brookfield is ruined."
Dr. Robin Appleby September 06, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Mr. Davidson and several others have commented, that the Brookfield Republican Town Committee only had 79 people to the caucus in January to vote on members for the 2 year term. This is because we supported the unifying ticket. We could have had a lot more people there. The members of the Brookfield RTC include liberals, moderates and conservatives. There is even a libertarian or 2. All are welcome. The way we win is by compromising with each other and including people who think somewhat differently. I realize that there is an aggressive, on going campaign to demonize the RTC. The reality is that we have men and women, young and old, Jewish and Christian (and non believers), liberals and conservatives. ALL are valued and are welcomed. And the thing that never seems to make it past the hate campaign, is that we really like and respect one another. We work hard and have a LOT of fun. Nationally, Republicans are now at the highest percentage of voters in decades while the Democrats have lost a huge amount of members. So I hope that if you are a Republican, an Unaffiliated or a Democrat....come check us out. We are having our Fall Social on October 20, at our headquarters. Last year hundreds of people came and we all had a great time. This year will be even better ! Come meet our excellent candidates :Linda McMahon, Andrew Roarback, David Scribner and Clark Chapin. Hope to see you.
Michael Gianfranceschi September 07, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Mr. Davidson's nasty reply would lead one to think that Mr. Walker's accusation had more than a kernal of truth to it. It almost appears that Brookfield is becoming Mr. Davidson's own personal little fiefdom.
Michelle September 07, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I would like to add that I was thrilled to have been invited to the Brookfield Republican Town Committee Summer Social as it was a delight to join such a tremendous group of talented, warm, intelligent and welcoming community members. It is truly a diverse group of outstanding people who work tirelessly for the betterment and support of Brookfield as well as surrounding towns. Great people of shining character and passion. I don't understand why our First Selectman is so aggressive towards the BRTC. These are great people representing the Republican community. Great people with deep roots of Brookfield pride, passion and shared community interests. I hope to be invited to the Fall Social as well and meet and mingle amongst Connecticut's finest.
Linda Taylor September 07, 2012 at 01:52 AM
As one of the newer members of the RTC I can tell you for certain that i was NEVER asked my opinion of Mr. Davidson during the interview process. I was just speaking tonight with another new member who ALSO was not asked about Mr. Davidson! I did hear Mr. Lasser say, at the BOS meeting, that he knew for sure that RTC candidates were asked about Mr. Davidson's performance!
Rob Gianazza September 07, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Ten years ago Mr. Davidson ran for Selectman on the Republicans United For Brookfield ticket. At that time the RTC was comprised of many different members. RFUB secured several seats on the RTC in the years that followed. Since that time Mr. Davidson left the Republican party to become unaffiliated, and ran with an endorsement from the Democratic party. It would be fair to say that the RTC has had an evolving membership over the past decade and is still in the process of identifying its' core values. What is interesting is that the Charter Revision Committee is recommending more selectmen to somehow "make it more fair" for the minority (Democratic) party. I urge everyone to be well informed about the Charter Revisions prior to the referendum. BTW, the selectmen get to choose which of the recommendations from the CRC will be on the referendum...
Matt Grimes September 07, 2012 at 11:44 AM
You're welcome. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify as several have raised the same inquiry you did.
Matt Grimes September 07, 2012 at 11:46 AM
David, you're absolutely right. I would add that, just because someone Votes No (or Votes Yes) on a budget or other referendum - or, for that matter, opposes the Charter Revisions - it does not mean they want to tear down Brookfield. Different people, different opinions.
Steven DeVaux September 07, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Sounds like this could be played as an example of attempted bullying to the kids in Brookfield schools. Threats just don't belong coming out of the Office of the First Selectman in Brookfield or any other town. This is beginning to sound like Bridgewater!
Dr. Robin Appleby September 07, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Larry Miller did a terrific job on Wetlands. Those of you who haven't served on these commissions probably dont realize the tremendous amount of hours of service they put in. Brookfield can be an absolute nightmare to work in. I could tell you stories for hours about how bad some of the people on the commissions treat fellow citizens who are trying to work/build in Brookfield. And the HUGE amount of money they waste. I started my last subdivision Sept 2001 and didn't get approval until January 2005 ! The market can turn down and you can go bankrupt and they dont care. When the Wetlands Commission set the date to walk and inspect my third subdivision, I had my engineer and surveyor present all morning, to anwer questions (at hundreds of dollars an hour). No one from Wetlands bothered to show up for their scheduled walk, except a new alternate named Larry Miller. Larry was always fair. Larry is pro-business, unlike many who used to be on the commissions. Larry was an excellent Chairman of the Wetlands Commission. I have no doubt that Larry will be excellent on Zoning. That being said, I think that Mr. Davidson and Lasser should respect the leadership and recommendations of the political parties. They have not. To all of you who are not raising a protest right now, when the tables are turned, and the minority party puts forth candidates and Selectman Walker or Friedrich or other Republican disregards them.....please keep quiet then.
Ryen September 07, 2012 at 08:38 PM
@ David P.: Show me where I said or implied that David? Can you follow the original thread? I was speaking of factionalization of the conservatives/Republicans in town--a process fostered and encouraged by certain portions of those factions, such as Billy Davidson. That is what this discussion was all about, no David? I will read the article again! LOL The suggestion is that Billy Davidson disrespected the Republican Town Committee and went against traditional, time-honored practices in appointment moves. That undermines the party system and a whole host of other processes in town. It does NOT accomplish or support what Davidson/Lasser claim they "do" here in town. Quite the contrary. And, the quote myself--THAT process WILL help ruin Brookfield. That is the point I made--and I stand by it. That type of behavior does not "build Brookfield up". It has nothing to do with my personal opinion or desires for Brookfield, David. But, unless your comment is TOTALLY off-base--which it is--or totally despicable--which it may be--please show me what my points had to do with "my desires for Brookfield"? I actually never mentioned those. Please stick to points, read more carefully, and be fair about the thread, David. Thanks. ;)
Ryen September 07, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Well put, Brian. I agree with what you said--and that is putting the best "face" on it. Still, Billy Davidson and attack puppy Lasser supported something that they would HOWL ALOUD against if it happened to them.... Just not the way to support a multi-party process..... But thanks for putting a great perspective on it, Brian.
Ryen September 07, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Here is Howie, putting himself up on his high pedestal again to look down upon the "lesser beings" who do not have all the purity, wisdom, genius, analysis, power, morals, ethics, and...well, let's keep it simple...to speak down to everyone who is just not as "perfect" and "perfectly informed" and "perfectly ethical and wise" as he is. Time will tell, I guess. But I am just a "serf" in the fiefdom.... ;) giggle
Ryen September 07, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Extremely well put, and a valuable summary perspective. Thank you, Robin! :)
Ryen December 12, 2012 at 11:13 PM
"engineer-type", "accountant-type", "whatever-type"--same thing! You say "puh-tay-toe", I say "puh-tah-toe"...my father was an engineer and my uncle was an accountant--again, as in a Monty Python skit: "SAME THING!" ;) Bottom line: not everything is a "problem to be solved" and not everyone needs an engineer or accountant to tell them "the way it needs to be"--ESPCIALLY not from "politically-correct, 1984ish, progressive-liberals"....
Steven DeVaux February 20, 2013 at 09:26 AM
Michelle, Hopefully, the emergence of a local third political party, A Brookfield Party, will allow for an option that provides for Brookfield's electorate to choose among alternatives. I think allowing for choice in elections is always a good thing and worthy of support.
Steven DeVaux February 20, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Once again, Cathy Malek is wrong.
Steven DeVaux February 20, 2013 at 09:31 AM
Robin, Perhaps the Republican Party can cross endorse A Brookfield Party the way the democrats endorsed independents. It would go a long way towards bringing Brookfield together and beginning the healing process after a tortuous four years.

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