Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon’s new dictatorship

By Edie Chernack
Journal Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 12:08 PM EST

The Vernon Town Council has a Republican majority, seating eight Republicans to four Democrats, plus a Republican mayor. So at the Town Council meeting on Nov. 17, the Republicans voted in a new set of rules by which the council must now abide.

In a nutshell, they have enacted a dictatorship.

The new rules state that the council members can be denied the right to pull an item from the consent agenda for discussion. A majority of the council can approve anything without debate. Goodbye to the days of agendas, where they could be required to vote on each item. This, they claim, will save time.

Though this may be true, it also prevents any item from being removed or discussed before it goes to a vote, unless a majority of the council votes in favor of doing so.

For all intents and purposes, Vernon now has a dictatorship, as it is rare that a Republican will actually vote differently from what the mayor wants. Thank you to the Republican council members who do think for themselves. Keep up the good work.

Mayor Jason McCoy is notorious for telling Democratic council members they are “out of order,” even when they are quoting from our town charter to support their point. He talks loudly over them and has even been known to turn off their microphone so they can’t be heard any longer, as he did to newly elected council member James Krupienski on Nov. 17.

Also at that meeting, McCoy told a town resident who was speaking at citizen’s forum that he was out of order, because the resident was reading a quote from the Journal Inquirer that connected the mayor with cronyism. McCoy said cronyism is illegal. Yet at this same meeting, he appointed former Republican Town Council member Robert Kleinhans — who, I’ve been told, is the landlord of McCoy’s business address — as director of Public Works. This is his fifth appointment to a high-paying town position from within his Republican Town Committee and friends.

McCoy says he’s not committing cronyism, but his record says otherwise.

When McCoy talks over Town Council members when he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say, he is behaving like an impertinent child who doesn’t like what he’s hearing, so he covers his ears and yells “la-la, la-la, la-la.”

I thought the Republicans were tired of the bickering between the parties. However, when McCoy talks over Town Council members who have the floor, or members of the public who are speaking at citizen’s forum, and repeatedly yells “out of order,” he is being rude and disrespectful and he is the one who is “out of order.” He is the one starting the bickering that the Republicans so like to accuse the Democrats of doing.

We live in a democracy and our First Amendment rights guarantee freedom of speech. Between McCoy yelling “out of order” and the new council rules that were adopted Nov. 17, it seems that only some residents of Vernon are allowed their First Amendment rights, because if McCoy doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he talks over people.

I have news for you, Mayor McCoy: Talking over people and talking louder than them doesn’t make you right. It only makes you loud.

A good leader leads by example. McCoy’s example shows that if you don’t like what you’re hearing, you don’t have to listen anymore. He just shuts people up and shuts them down at his whim.

A good leader also listens to all sides, then makes an educated decision based on all the information. McCoy seems to only listen to what he wants to hear — and too bad if you happen to have a different opinion or pertinent information that would indicate that his way of thinking may be faulty.

But that is how a dictatorship works.

So, welcome to McVernon. I pray we all survive the next two years.

The writer is a resident of Vernon.