Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Council Democrats, Republicans accuse each other of partisanship

By Max Bakke
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:56 AM EDT

VERNON — Town Council Democrats and Republicans accused one another of partisanship and blocking town business with personal attacks during their meeting Tuesday.

The sniping, which oftentimes dominates council meetings, spilled into a portion of public comment period preceding the council’s business after Democratic Councilwoman Marie Herbst accused Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy of not following the council’s rules by omitting an agenda item that Herbst requested.

Democrats consistently have accused McCoy of ignoring their requests. The matter came to a head in July when they asked McCoy to bring forward a new candidate for the vacant public works director position. When he didn’t they walked out of a meeting last month.

“We must all follow the rules,” Herbst said of McCoy’s behavior.

She said she requested an update from Westport developer Joseph Vallone on the work being done at Roosevelt Mills.

McCoy told Herbst on Tuesday that Roosevelt Mills would be discussed as part of an executive session, and if she wanted an update the council could discuss the project later in public session.

McCoy did not return a call today seeking comment.

The arguing provoked a response from Republican Councilman Mark Etre, who accused Democrats of fostering partisanship that detracted from conducting town business.

“When you go to town meetings now, you can sense the tension in the air,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

The bickering, he said, had “paralyzed decision making and the big issues of the day are not being addressed.”

Meetings are a “contest of one-upmanship,” he added.

Longtime resident Bill Smith also chastised the council, recalling an incident from his youth when his father scolded him about working together and playing nice with friends.

“We’re all grownups,” he said. “And I think I’m older than lot of you here, but I can still remember a switch on my backside.”

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